‘If anything is worth doing it, it’s worth doing slowly,’ such is the philosophy of the company, Hacienda. And sometimes there is more pleasure in living life in the slow lane as Sabi Phagura found out
If you are a foodie, wine and a spa enthusiast, then you need to head to Hacienda Zorita Wine, Hotel and Spa pronto. In fact, I couldn’t think of a better mix of all three at the fantastic location of Salamanca in the heart of the Duero valley in Spain. It’s so calm and tranquil here, that, like me, you could be mistaken for thinking you have ended up at yoga retreat in the middle of nowhere.
Although yoga sessions can be enjoyed in the most beautiful chapel on site, the emphasis here is definitely on good food and wine. The slow food concept is taken incredibly serious while the wines are made with the highest quality grapes. I wouldn’t be far wrong in saying that it is a little piece of heaven on earth on a plate in this humbly understated luxury of a five-star place.
The estate’s roots date back to the 14th century when it was founded in 1366. It was once a “casa hospitalaria” as well as the order’s farm. But the building that stands today has been renovated over the last decade to return it to its former glory. It boasts 40 exclusive rooms and villas interspersed with contemporary interior design, a farm-to-food restaurant, wine bar and cellar and a relaxing spa.
If you’re into wine, you may be aware that this area is the gateway to the Tierra del Pan y del Vino – the land of bread and wine. Vines have been growing here since 1366, and to get a real feel of the wine-making process here, you need to head to the hotel’s natural reserve some 70 miles away. Situated in the Arribes de Duero Natural Park, it is Europe’s largest protected area and stretches across two countries – Spain and Portugal. The 70ha vineyard has a mix of local Tempranillo grapes and international grape varieties. The Syrah grape thrives here due to the specific microclimate. Guests can walk or cycle the vine paths before indulging in a wine tasting session. And a visit doesn’t have to be a fleeting one as private villas can be booked to extend a stay.
The slow-food movement is big in the Duero Valley, and Hacienda Zorita places a lot of emphasis on good clean organic food with their organic farm just ten minutes from the hotel. Here a limited quantity of high-quality food such as raw milk, ewe’s cheese, Iberico hams and charcuterie, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fruit, vegetables and bread are produced.
Did I mention how good the balsamic vinegar is? I ate it by the spoonful – it was really was that delicious. I wouldn’t have expected anything less as the 10-year old vinegar produced in the cellars is one of a kind in the whole of Spain.
Back at the hotel, and the chef turns this organic fare into tasty country meals at Zorita’s Kitchen all paired with wine. To enjoy a variety of foods, the tapas experience can be drooled over at brunch or lunch at the weekends. The afternoon tea – which keeping in line with Spanish timing – can be appreciated between 6-8pm. Weather permitting, I recommend dining on the terrace. There’s just something magical about eating and socialising al fresco, especially with the hotel’s unparalleled river and garden views.
Eating and drinking can send most people into a sleepy state regardless of the time of day so it really helps by having a spa on site. The exclusive Wine and Olive Spa takes residency in the former flour mill and is a little Mecca of relaxation. And of course as the name hints, specially conceived vino and olive oil therapies can be enjoyed at the spa. Whether you choose from the ‘wine and roses ritual’ or the ‘olive skin ritual’, or indeed a massage, rest assured you will be in good hands. I certainly was as I drifted off into a blissful sleep just moments after the therapist began my treatment. The rest of the session was quite a blissful blur.
It’s a two-hour drive from the estate back to Madrid airport and it’s easy to feel nostalgic the minute you leave. But you can always make a stop at the company’s restaurant and bar called Warehouse just minutes from the airport. Squeezing in that one final fix of great food and wine before boarding the plane is definitely worth it.
Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel and Spa – Where and How?
Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel and Spa is located at Carretera Salamanca-Ledesma, 12 Km, Valverdón 37115, 37100, Spain. From Madrid airport you can take a train to Salamanca (approx. £30 – £40 return) or a hotel transfer (start from €260 for a private car). Room rates depending on the season start from around £147 a night.
By Sabi Phagura
Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel and Spa Gallery