Dreaming of a romantic weekend sipping wine in a classic French chateau or on the picturesque countryside of a Napa Valley winery? Enjoy both in the South Carolina Upcountry.
Located just 25 minutes apart in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the French-influenced Victoria Valley Vineyards and California-style Eagle Mountain Vineyards & Winery offer all the makings of a jet-setting, transatlantic wine weekend holiday. Stay at the elegant Hotel Domestique in nearby Travelers Rest and you have one decadent, luxuriously romantic vacation experience you won’t soon forget.
Here’s an itinerary for your winery-touring weekend:
Check into Hotel Domestique, a modern, European-inspired hotel established and owned by famed cyclist George Hincapie. Blending Old World style and contemporary amenities, the beautifully appointed boutique hotel features 13 luxury guest rooms offering stunning views of the mountains or countryside.
After you’ve settled into your room, head to the hotel’s lush courtyard to enjoy the panoramic mountain vista or take a swim in the saltwater pool. As evening approaches, relax with an onsite couples’ massage.
When you’re ready for dinner, venture no farther than the hotel’s restaurant to indulge in award-winning cuisine created almost exclusively from local produce and meats. Restaurant 17 (named for the number of times Hincapie rode in the Tour de France) offers a unique menu with an elevated twist on classic Italian and Mediterranean favorites. Executive Chef Haydn Shaak was recognized as a South Carolina Chef Ambassador for 2022, a program that recognizes chefs for their use of South Carolina products in crafting their menus. The extraordinary mountain views coupled with the restaurant’s enchanting atmosphere complete the intimate dining experience.
Order room service and pamper yourself with a leisurely breakfast in bed. Then start the day’s activities with a private yoga session arranged for you at Hotel Domestique.
Energized and ready to hit the road, make the scenic drive to Victoria Valley Vineyards, a 47-acre winery designed in the tradition of a French chateau. Sit at one of the tables on the terrace overlooking Stool Mountain and order a tasting tower with your choice of five of the winery’s European vinifera wines. Once you’ve found a favorite, order a glass along with a cheese plate or grilled panini and savor the view.
Then it’s off to Eagle Mountain Vineyards for a taste of California wine country. The winemaking in this newly established winery is directed by acclaimed California vintner George Bursick, whose 1985 Chardonnay was awarded Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year.” While the Eagle Mountain estate includes cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc vines, the winery also sources grapes from the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Monterey wine regions in California.
Opened in July 2021, the winery was built on a 40-acre hillside along the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway with an attractive barn-style building as the centerpiece. Along with wines by the glass, the winery offers a “Wine & Food Experience,” which includes a tasting of five wines, a glass of your favorite among the selection and a gourmet charcuterie presentation.
Plans are in the works to add a bistro, sculpture park and nature trail to the property in late summer of 2022.
Complete your winemaking tour of the Upstate with dinner at Core 450, overlooking the 9th and 18th greens at Cherokee Valley Course and Club. Reminiscent of a classic mountain retreat, the restaurant features a cozy bar that wraps around an open kitchen, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The menu is just as enticing with chef-inspired dishes like caramelized diver scallops, braised short ribs, sweet tea-brined pork chop and seared halibut.
Spend the last day of your romantic weekend exploring the countryside on horseback. Within 20 minutes of the hotel are multiple stables, including Rockin’ Reverend Ranch, which offers a mountain trail tour near Table Rock as well as a waterfalls tour in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.