Discovering Spain’s Number One Monastery Turned Hotel, Winery and Spa: Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine
When I was invited to visit a winery in Spain, I didn’t hesitate. Why travel thousands of miles for one winery? Because Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine isn’t just a winery. Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine also operates a top hotel that used to be an abbey, dating back centuries. This location has two restaurants – one is a Michelin-star – as well as a spa with the world’s only spa sommelier, and much more that I would learn about when I visited. Available for the delight of their guests were bicycles, a Mini Cooper, personal butler service, and even binoculars to use with their flora and fauna guides. All of this accompanied, of course, their award-winning wines, namely the famous black grape of the region, Tempranillo, that the winery is well known for. All of this is less than 90 minutes from Madrid by high-speed rail to the town of Valladolid.
Hotel Tour and Dining
We had arrived earlier than planned, so we took some time to tour the property at our leisure, sans guide. We meandered throughout the former “abbey of Santa Maria de Retuerta” and found where the future farm was taking shape, as well as the gym, the yoga and meditation room, the welcoming courtyard, outdoor pool – found within the vineyards — and indoor pool included in the underground Santuario L’Domaine Wellness and Spa.
A little later we had our scheduled tour with CEO Enrique Valero. We saw the former refectory that now houses their Michelin-starred restaurant, El Refectorio, and above its dining area, you can see the “chapter room” where monks read to those in the refectory. The chapel is now a conference room for meetings. The original abbey is often the perfect site for weddings. The wine cellar, filled with rare spirits and reserves, doesn’t just hold wines from Abadía Retuerta (1995, 1999, 2001 and 2006 were some notable vintages); I spied older vintages from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Germany, to name just a few.
From Valero, we learned that the staff undergoes quite a bit of training, which takes place during breakfasts at Le Domaine, so much so that they feel like guests themselves, learning about the monastery and studying for various wine certifications. The staff’s training and knowledge shine through the in-depth service, from management to staff. I witnessed this myself when Valero researched a spot not far from the hotel that was popular with budding anthropologists. During our tour, he had learned that my daughter is an anthropology major. After finding this out, he slipped a map under her door that guided her to the site and made the Mini Cooper available for her use. Valero shared that, “We are not here to sell wine, we are here to gain a new apostle…and we are not a short-term company, we are guardians of this legacy.”
The two restaurants we dined in — Refectorio for breakfast and dinner, Vinoteca for multi-course “tapas” style lunch — were exceptional in both selection and service. At El Refectorio, we enjoyed a 15-course dinner. Some of the dishes we had over the two gastronomic days included baby lamb, Castilian stew soup, crayfish, sea bream, roasted suckling pig, Iberico ham and local cheeses. And, of course, all of it was accompanied by wines from LeDomaine and the wine cellar.
Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting
Direct Sales Rep Fernando Gonzalez took us from the hotel to the vineyards across the street, all located in the Douro Valley. (All guests are offered an individualized private wine tour experience – no groups. Valero feels that guests are more comfortable asking questions when not amongst a group of strangers.) In 1991, the first vineyards were planted and the winery was built in 1996, the same year as their first vintage.
For a winery tour you can pick what you want to see and do: a vineyard tour, check out the French and American oak barrels used for aging, have a picnic while wine tasting or a sit down tasting in the shop. During our visit, we enjoyed a 2015 “Seleccion Especial” current release blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet and Syrah; 2012 “Pago Negralada” 100% Tempranillo (my favorite), and 2015 PV Petit Verdot.
The Spa Sommelier Treatment
At the “Santuario L’Domaine Wellness and Spa”, I was intrigued by the idea of having the world’s first spa sommelier tailor a spa treatment with my choice in wine. It began with a sensory evaluation, where there were three scented oils – all made with botanicals from the property – that complemented three different LeDomaine wines. My tastes went straight for the blackest wine – the Pago Negralada Tempranillo – and the citrus dominant oil that best matched it. After the tasting, I was escorted back to a treatment room, where my feet were gently bathed before settling in for a massage. The oil I had enjoyed just before wafted through the room as it was massaged into my muscles.
Closed from December until mid February, mid-week is the best time to find availability. Learn more here: www.abadia-retuerta.com/en.
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