A taste of California in Berkshire County
Boasting more than 30,000 bottles of vintage and famous wines in its coveted cellars, a spa with some wine-inspired treatments and a private art collection that includes After the Upset, a mural by Gary Myatt that depicts the famous “Judgment of Paris” (where California wines upset French bottles in a 1976 high-profile blind tasting with experts), The Vineyard is part museum, part wine bar and part exclusive hotel.
It is an intimate hotel, offering just 49 rooms, so the service is personalized. After staying there for a day, the sommelier will remember the types of wine you like, the room service attendant will serve your eggs the exact way you ordered them before and the chef will greet you by name when you join the restaurant for dinner.
If you need a break from swirling and sipping, The Vineyard is just a 10-minute drive from Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey was filmed) and the Newbury Racecourse.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• The Berkshire hotel offers more than 100 wines by the glass, if you can’t seem to make up your mind when trying to peruse through the staggering 30,000-bottle list.
• Hosted by a wine expert and certified sommelier, you can also opt for a wine dinner or a class at a wine school.
• An all-suite property, The Vineyard furnishes each of the accommodations in a more traditional California country-house décor, featuring four-poster beds, luxurious marble bathrooms and some even a balcony or terrace overlooking the gardens.
• The 3AA Rosette Restaurant’s menu is inspired by local, seasonal and fresh ingredients, so you’re bound to find dishes like Berkshire beef filet paired with truffle pomme puree, Brixham cod or roasted sweetbreads and shellfish tortellini.
What to Know
• The boutique hotel is an oenophile’s dream, thanks to owner Peter Michael’s passion for wine. Michael, who also owns a heralded winery in Sonoma Valley, California, opened the glamorous resort in the late ’90s and put the wine center stage.
• If wine isn’t your forte, this might not be the resort for you, as nearly everything in the hotel is focused on the art of winemaking — down to the names of the rooms.
• Since wine is the specialty here, the luxury hotel may not be the best for children.
• A temple to California wines, the design and décor of each expertly appointed suite pays homage to Michael’s favorite wine-growing region.
• The most impressive room is the Grand Suite, which comes with a fully outfitted living room (complete with working fireplace), balcony or terrace, large soaking tub and marble bathroom, luxurious Ren toiletries, a four-poster bed and large, floor-to-ceiling windows offering a view into the quaint and quiet countryside of Berkshire.
• Just as impressive, the Luxury Suites — which are furnished more in an elegant French-country-chic décor — come with a small but cozy living room, a large bed with a plush headboard and a large shower/soaking tub for enjoying an evening glass of wine in.
• Each room also comes equipped with some non-wine amenities: Nespresso coffee machines, free Wi-Fi, digital TV, a newspaper and a fully stocked mini-bar.
• Berkshire’s food scene is far more understated than London’s almost overwhelming gastronomy scene. Even though there are a few top contenders to the Vineyard’s 3AA Rosette restaurant in neighboring properties, the cozy bistro and expansive wine bar is almost always hailed as one of the best in not just Berkshire, but East London and the Cotswolds as well.
• 3AA Rosette offers a number of tasting menus. Reenact the Judgment of Paris with the restaurant’s Judgment Tasting Menu, where you’ll do your own blind wine tasting.
• For an à la carte taste of the region and the chef’s talent, start with the melt-in-your-mouth pan-fried Label Rouge foie gras with preserved plums, then go for either the perfectly cooked squab or the saddle of venison with blackberry and chervil. For dessert, there’s no contest — the chocolate, salted caramel and fromage blanc sorbet is a revelation and pairs beautifully with some of the house wines.
• Far more understated than the main dining room, the California Bar is Michael’s take on a hip L.A. eatery with wine and small plates, like creamy baked ricotta with cardamom and butter squash, the light and flavor-packed Californian vegetable burger made with beetroot or the Brixham crab cakes paired with a housemade chili jam.
• The mouthwatering room service menu at The Vineyard will make you want to stay in. The breakfast feels like something you’d enjoy when staying at a country B&B in Napa. Sample some of the local farmhouse cheeses or go for a full English breakfast that’s sure to leave you full until supper.