Luxury yacht charter is about indulging yourself in whatever way makes you happy. For some, that might involve antiquity, events, watersports or shopping. For others, it might centre more squarely on gourmet cuisine or on the kind of food and drink that reflects the cultural story of the local people. Of course, at some point during a charter holiday, most charter guests will enjoy a glass of local wine in a shoreside bar. And others, who want to take full advantage of their charter yacht’s luxury, might ask their broker to ensure that their yacht is stocked with a variety of the local region’s finest wines. But if you want a truly memorable wine charter, with picturesque vineyards, expert tastings, private wine tours and celebratory wine festivals, the following charter yacht destinations are among the most rewarding in the world.
Wine charter: northern Spain
One of the best regions of Spain for a wine lover’s yacht charter is undoubtedly Catalonia. Perched in the north east, it enjoys a long Mediterranean coastline and wines that feel as proud, distinctive and independent as the Catalan culture itself. If you position yourself in the magical yacht charter destination of Barcelona, there are plenty of very satisfying wine experiences within easy reach. Alta Alella, a superb coastal vineyard in a picturesque setting, is accessible by boat and is perfectly set up for tours and tastings. Nearby Can Calopa, an extraordinary little cooperative winemaking project with an 18th century dining hall, is also a great place to visit. And you can also find wine tastings in the city centre at one of Barcelona’s many ‘vinotecas’, bringing you easy access to some wonderful vintages from the famous Penedes and Priorat regions.
If you want to really make the most of your yacht charter in north eastern Spain, it’s also well worth making the six or seven-hour cruise south to the wonderful cruising grounds of the Balearics. The lovely island of Mallorca is an outstanding wine destination in its own right, with nearly 100 small-scale family-run producers making more than 300 varieties of wine. With fertile soils, a warm climate and a winemaking tradition that goes back to Roman times, the island is well geared up for wine tourism too. Most of the wineries are accessible for tours and tastings and there’s also a vibrant calendar of wine-related events. In the glorious north, just a stone’s throw from Port de Pollença and Port d’Alcudia, the annual Pollença Wine Fair in early May sees dozens of vineyards from all across the Balearics congregating in the town’s pretty central square. And the nearby Binnisalem Wine Festival in September, celebrating the end of the harvest, is another superb event, bringing together a range of great wines with music, dance and a very well attended (and very messy) Grape Throwing Festival.
Wine charter: southern France
Though famed for its food, scenery and sophistication, the Cote d’Azur is also a prime yacht charter destination for wine. The Îles de Lérins, just off Cannes, is a wonderfully picturesque archipelago to anchor up with a bottle of award-winning organic wine from the Cistercian monks who own and run nearby Ile Saint-Honorat. And further west, beyond St Tropez and the National Park serenity of Ile de Porquerolles, the renowned Bandol wine region around Toulon is equally exciting for its big, powerful reds and exceptional rosés.
Closer to the primary destinations of this famed stretch of coastline, there are also plenty of specialist wine tours that operate out of Nice, Cannes and Antibes. You can join a small group or you can book a private tour of the best vineyards with a local expert. You can go on foot, by bike or by bus. And if you really want to take the legwork out of it, you can head for any number of local bars, cafes and bistros, all of which are proud to stock a wide variety of Provençal wines. The region’s buzzing local food markets can also be a treasure trove of local drinks. The Cours Saleya Market in Nice, the covered market in Antibes’ Old Town and the ‘Marche Forville’ at the bottom of Le Suquet in Cannes are all very rewarding places to visit. Or you could marry local food with some of the best and most coveted wines of this region and pick one of the French Riviera’s 40 or so Michelin Star restaurants. For something really special, why not take a look at La Vague d’Or at Hotel Cheval Blanc in St Tropez, Château Eza in Éze Village, JAN in Nice or Mirazur in Menton.