10 Craziest Wine Cellars and Wineries Around the World
From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the rustic countryside of California, here are the biggest, oldest and most-esteemed wineries and cellars on the planet.
Photo By: Castillo DiAmorosa
Photo By: Palmaz
Photo By: Chamonix Winery
Photo By: FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI
Photo By: Frescobald Wines
Photo By: Coppola Winery
Photo By: JEAN PIERRE MULLER
Photo By: Quintessa Winery
Photo By: M-ANGLADA / Chateau Margaux
Photo By: Livermano Winery
Castello di Amorosa, St. Helena, Calif.
This 13th century medieval Tuscan-style castle took 15 years to build. But the result is an awe-inspiring 121,000 square-foot castle winery with five defensive towers, 1,000 pound hand-hewn doors from Italy, eight levels, and 107 rooms (95 of which are devoted to winemaking), creating more than 15 types of wine. Castello di Amorosa, designed by Dario Sattui, also boasts a church, drawbridge, courtyard, watch tower, torture chamber, and secret passage ways. Visitors can choose from daily general admission visits, reserved tours and tastings, or splurge on one of the castle’s VIP tour experiences—the $20,000-per couple tour includes a private chef, photographer, a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon, limo transport, and a key to the castle.
Palmaz Vineyards, Napa, Calif.
Palmaz’s subterranean winery, the Cave, extends 18 stories into the rocky flank of Napa Valley’s Mount George, and showcases their unique take on gravity-flow winemaking, which takes place in a well-engineered maze of tunnels and domes carved into rock. Gravity-flow design minimizes the turbulence that damages the molecular structure, and these wines also benefit from the natural temperature control of a cave. Twenty-four fermentation tanks inside the fermentation dome can accommodate a variety of grapes from vineyards across the estate, including their signature Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Muscat—all named after members of the winery family.
Chamonix, Franschhoek, South Africa
Situated high above the Franschhoek valley in the heart of the Western Cape, this is no ordinary wine farm. Chamonix is a vast domain encompassing a vineyard, farmland, and a sprawling game reserve with guest lodges surrounded by wildebeest, zebra, and springboks. An underground passage leads from the cellar up into the Blacksmith’s Cottage, built in the late 1700s and which now houses the tasting room. But despite the scale and grandeur, winemaking here is done by a small, hands-on team—all fruit is selected by hand and the process follows traditional methods. Visitors can stay in the private farm lodges and suites—with animals right outside the window, it’s an African experience unlike any other.
Moet & Chandon, Epernay, France
A must-see for lovers of bubbly, this name has been associated with sparkle and glamour ever since the house was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët. Toward the end of the 18th century, Jean-Remy Moët, grandson of the founder, became famous as the man who introduced Champagne to the world. For more than a quarter of a millennium, the renowned French winemaker has been sharing the magic of Champagne across the globe. Across 2,840 acres of rich chalk soil, Moet & Chandon Champagne is made from grapes grown on the most extensive estate in the region, 50 percent of which are grands crus and 25 percent are premiers crus. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are harvested from vineyards in all of the five main areas of Champagne—Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, Sézanne and Aube—providing the house access to approximately 200 of the 323 crus in the region. Famous for the first sabering of bottles and christening of ships, the exuberant spray of Champagne is also accredited to the estate dating back to the celebrations of the winners of the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1967, linking the brand to explosions of joy and celebration.
Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy
This is Tuscany like you’ve never seen it before. Tenuta Ammiraglia Estate represents a ship pointing toward the sea in search of new horizons. It was created by the renowned Frescobaldi family, who owns six estates in Tuscany—their heritage closely knit with the region. (At the high point of medieval Florence, the Frescobaldis spread their influence as bankers, and later became patrons of major works there during the flowering of the Renaissance.) Not only is the architecture a dramatic departure from other vineyards in the region, but the wines also represent a modern and more Mediterranean Tuscany, both following suit with its captivating and unique design. The cellar is a combination of innovation, technology and respect for the environment, existing in perfect harmony with the natural beauty that surrounds it.
The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, Calif.
Francis Ford Coppola’s “wine wonderland” is truly a playground for everyone—wine lovers, couples, friends and families. Food, wine, music, dancing, games, live performances and swimming come together in an estate that boasts way more than just vino. Fun is clearly the theme at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery—the first in Northern California to feature a swimming pool and a bocce court—with two swimming pools totaling 3,600 square feet that sit at the center of the park area, and live performances at the performing arts pavilion. Every day is a party here, but don’t miss "Salsa Dancing Under the Stars" or the "Annual Harvest and Halloween Carnival" for even more festive fanfare.
Château Pape Clément, Bordeaux, France
Château Pape Clément in Pessac, near Bordeaux, is named after its most famous owner: Pope Clement V. One of the oldest Grand Crus of the area (the first harvest took place in 1252), it is also one of the most innovative. Beginning with the 2014 vintage, the current owner, Bernard Magrez, has enlisted the help of drones to measure the vigor of the vines to determine when and where to harvest the grapes. (The drone takes photos of the vineyards, then software translates the photos into color-coded maps.) But the 148 acres of vines surrounding the château are also cared for by traditional methods—horses till the soil and work the vines, being used for mowing, seeding, and working the grounds. The estate is host to a vast selection of unforgettable and unique experiences—from visits to the vault and tastings with the cellar masters to a luxury private tour that include a Sturia caviar and wine pairing. Not enough? Stay overnight in one of the two classic rooms or three suites complete with 19th century pieces and Baccarat chandeliers.
Quintessa, Rutherford, Calif.
Wine nerds, rejoice. This place is for you. Quintessa is a winemaker’s paradise. It's equipped with modern winemaking technology and state-of-the-art facilities all wrapped into a structure that blends seamlessly into the contours of the 280-acre property. The natural, crescent-shaped design also facilitates a gentle, gravity-flow winemaking system—the roof doubles as the crush pad, where a sorting table-destemmer receives the grapes and then funnels them by gravity into fermentation tanks in the production hall directly below. After the wine is put in barrels, it ages in 1,000 linear feet of caves. At the heart of the winery, overlooking the tanks and presses below, is the glass-enclosed blending room and adjoining modern winemaking “lab.”
Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux, France
Château Margaux’s story is quite literally from the pages of a history book. In 1152, Aquitaine fell to the advance of England until 1453, and Bordeaux wines benefited from this new market (Bordeaux “claret” was adopted as a table wine by Richard the Lion Heart, King of England, in the 12th century). Successive owners of the 647-acre estate were important lords but it was Pierre de Lestonnac, from 1572 to 1582, who completely restructured the property and the vineyard, anticipating the evolution of the Médoc region that had started to abandon cereal growing in favor of vines. Two hundred years ago, architect Louis Combes designed the chateau in a style inspired by ancient Greece and paying homage to the Parthenon. One hundred and sixty years after that, André Mentzelopoulos gave it back the luster it lost during the long Bordeaux wine crisis. Today, wine lovers and Francophiles can schedule a visit (by appointment, Monday through Friday) to soak in the rich culture and beauty of the vines and the wine.
Livernano and Casalvento, Tuscany, Italy
First inhabited by Etruscans around 500 BC, Livernano is truly an ancient place. Later occupied by the Romans (who gave it its name), it also served as a fortified border post during the wars of the two great medieval city states in Tuscany, Siena, and Florence long after the cessation of Roman rule. After the territorial wars were over, it became a working farm, which it still is today—producing wine, olive oil, honey, vegetables, and fruits thanks to a complete restoration in the 1990s after it was purchased by serial entrepreneur/Broadway producer, Bob Cuillo. In addition to tours of the state-of-the-art Casalvento wine cellar, visitors can also take cooking classes from the estate’s private chef, using produce from its organic vegetable garden. The whole hamlet can be rented out for weddings, parties, or other events, and guests stay overnight in rooms named after grapes.