Wine can be drunk with a meal or tasted at a winery, but it is also possible to enjoy its benefits without putting it in your mouth: this is the premise of wine therapy, a revolutionary beauty and well-being concept using the properties of grapes for treatments such as massages, body wraps, baths and body scrubs. The active elements found in grapes are surprising: resveratrol (found in vines) stimulates collagen and helps prevent skin ageing, while viniferine (found in the sap) can reduce brown spots and give the skin a healthy glow, and grape water (extracted from fresh grapes) has similar properties to spa water.
In France, wine therapy has its origins in Bordeaux at the Sources de Caudalie which opened in 1999. Well-being adepts are increasingly enthusiastic about this trend and new centres dedicated purely to wine therapy are opening each year. Here are five places in France where the benefits of wine therapy can be enjoyed.
Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux-Martillac
In the heart of the vineyards of Château Smith Haut Laffite, in a refined and elegant setting, Les Sources de Caudalie was the very first wine therapy centre in Bordeaux (and indeed, in France). Baths with grape, red vine and essential oil extracts boost the circulation, while grape seed oil massages moisturise and soothe the skin. Well-being meets gastronomy: Les Sources de Caudalie features a five-star hotel and two restaurants, one of which – the Michelin-starred La Grand’Vigne – is headed up by talented chef Nicolas Masse.
Address: Smith Haut-Lafitte, 33650 Martillac — Tel: 05 57 83 83 83 — Website: Les Sources de Caudalie
Château Hôtel Spa Grand Barrail — Saint-Émilion
Another address in the Bordeaux area where wine therapy enthusiasts can relax in style while enjoying the benefits of grape-based treatments. Set in three hectares of grounds, the Spa de l’Hôtel Grand Barrail in Saint-Émilion offers well-being and beauty treatments and features massage rooms, a jacuzzi, sauna, Scottish bath and hammam. The Saint-Émilion tourist office sells the great value Pass’Escapades Bien-être which allows visitors to tour Saint-Émilion and its wine estates and includes a session at the Grand Barrail spa centre (details here).
Address: 33330 Saint-Émilion Tel: 05 57 55 37 00 Website: Grand Barrail
Château de Pizay — Morgon
Head for Beaujolais and enjoy a relaxing stay at Château de Pizay. Surrounded by 75 hectares of vineyard, the spa uses a range of natural body care products made from Chardonnay extract and rose essential oil created by local company Rose & Pepper. In 2010 the centre was awarded first prize in the design category of the Trophées Spa awards. Treatments start from 49 euros for a body scrub or wrap. Treat yourself or someone special with the gorgeous gift packs created for the holiday season.
Address: Château du Pizay 69220 Saint-Jean d’Ardières Tel: 04 74 66 51 41 Website: Château Pizay
La Cour du Bailli — Bergheim
Tucked away in the heart of Alsace wine country, La Cour du Bailli is a converted wine estate with a health spa specialising in wine therapy. The VitisSpa Alsace has three treatment rooms with chromotherapy lights, an pool with underwater lighting, sauna, jacuzzi and a large range of treatments and massages (advance booking necessary). Relax with a grape seed oil body wrap or a stimulating leg and foot massage, then make yourself comfortable at the Vitisbar and sample the delicious food and wine tasting menu.
Address: 57 Grand Rue, 68750 Bergheim Tel: 03 89 73 73 46 Website: La Cour du Bailli
Spa Bourgogne Vignes & Bien être
The fifth wine therapy centre on our list is one of the most prestigious in France, offering authentic, traditional grape-based treatments. Just a stone’s throw from the famous Hospices de Beaune, the spa’s treatment areas are set around a magnificent garden. Luxuriate in a traditional ballonge (a large wooden harvesting tub) filled with grape water and grapes, or enjoy an organic grape seed oil massage. Soft lighting and delightful aromas enchant the senses and help create a truly memorable, deeply relaxing ambiance.
Address: 5 rue du Château 21200 Beaune Tel: 03 80 21 19 91 Website: Spa Vignes & Bien-Être
Tempted by wine therapy? It would certainly make a wonderful Christmas present (not that we’re dropping any hints). Wine is not only good for your health and helpful in reducing stress: discover its other health benefits here (but as always, remember to indulge in moderation).