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Vinotherapie
Once Upon a Vine:
A Story About a Unique Gathering of Grapes
Story by Fyllis Hockman

lright, we all know by now that drinking red wine is supposed to be heart-healthy. So then, shouldn't slathering a glass of Merlot on your body be good for the skin? Such is the theory – sort of – at the Caudalie Spas. There are currently only four in the world, and I am luxuriating in a 'vinotherapie' massage in the Relais San Maurizio Hotel in the heart of the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. The vintage is being absorbed into the skin rather than ingested into the bloodstream.

the Relais San Maurizio Hotel, Piedmont, Italy

As is also true in Bordeaux, France, Rioja, Spain and New York City (Hmmm; don't exactly think of the latter as a major wine-producing area…), here wine is king! And the appreciation of its many attributes which, as those who know me can attest, I try to experience as often as I can is a venerated practice. So it seems appropriate that the consumption of wine extend beyond traditional imbibing.

Jets of water are swinging across my body I feel like I'm being irrigated while Simonatta, wearing a head-to-foot plastic apron (not your usual masseuse attire) is rubbing me down with an oil extract made from the seeds, skin, stalk and pulp of the grape. I refrained from asking if the oils needed to breathe before reaching their full essence, or whether it was a Pinot Noir, Sauvignon or Cabernet blend.

massage with oil extract made from the seeds, skin, stalk and pulp of grapes

Okay, I can hear you laughing, but it's true. That's how they identify the massages. There's even one where you lie in a wine barrel and ferment no, I made that up but the Barrel Bath promises "a mild exfoliating effect" with grape extracts "selected for their draining and relaxing properties."

Barrel Bath

There are lots of different options: a Red Vine Bath, Honey and Wine Wrap, Crushed Cabernet Scrub, Bordeaux Stone Therapy, Pulp Friction Massage.

Speaking of movies… apparently I'm in good company. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Madonna and JLo all have vegged out in vino over the past couple of years. Wait until AA hears about it they'll have to start whole new chapters with a 12-step program that involves avoiding spas.

So here's the theory behind all this: It began in 1993, when a professor at the Bordeaux University of Pharmacology started promoting the anti-aging benefits of those parts of the grapes that are usually discarded. He was probably drunk at the time…

massage with grapes

Personally, I think his claims are a little grandiose. The promotional materials boast that these little wine-bearing grape guys "contain polyphenols which, once stabilized, have priceless benefits for the skin, as their incredible capacity to trap free radicals is unequaled in the plant world." Sounds too much like a break-through miracle cure: Moisturize, don't metastasize.

The recommended therapy? Put a shot-glass-sized portion of the wine oil mixture into a bath or massage treatment, apparently enough to exfoliate, cleanse, moisturize, increase circulation and reduce stress. Hardly seems enough for the body to get high on.

pouring wine into glasses

Okay so I wasn't all that impressed. Maybe I should have opted for the Cabernet Scrub rather than the jet-stream massage. As the jets of water swept side to side during the final rinse, I felt like a well-washed piece of fruit.

Suffice it to say, when I passed a well-stocked wine cellar enroute back to my room, I couldn't help but think I'd much rather be drinking wine than bathing in it.

Related Articles:
Sipping Vino and Savoring Vistas In Tuscany; German Wine Tours; In Search of Kirsch, Stout, Wine & Whisky; Traveling in Northern Italy

(Posted 6-2-2013)



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Let Fyllis know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Gullah Culture

I think a lot of the plantation enslaved Africans began with a variety of African languages and little contact with English speakers. Even today some of the speech patterns of modern descents of the enslaved hold onto this language or some of the patterns even after being away from the area for generations. That's what we heard in N Carolina.

-- Barbara, Mill Creek, WA

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Thank you for your extensive and accurate story of a remarkable, resilient culture!

-- Marlene O'Bryant-Seabrook, Ph.D. – Charleston, SC

And Marlene – thank you so very much for your comment. Nothing makes a writer feel better than hearing something like that!!!

Fyllis

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Nice story thanks, however there are also Gullah speak in southern Belize and Honduras coast to Trujillo, been all over both thanks.

-- Michael Johnson – Myrtle Beach, SC

Hi Michael,

Thank you so much for your comment. However, I think what you're referring to in the Belize/Honduras region is more accurately characterized as the Garifuna culture and language, which somewhat parallels the Gullah. If you'd like more information about that, please read my November 2011 story in travelingboy.com about the Garifuna.

Fyllis

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Toooooooo cooooooool Now I want to go to Florida!!!!

-- Kathy Marianelli – Columbia, Maryland

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Feedback for Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

I'm a Vietnamese and I can't help but went through all of your pictures. They are beautiful, both the couples and the natural sceneries. Vietnam is such a beautiful place, I love it. I have been to Ha Long Bay once, in fact, I have been too all places that you took pictures of. I love your pictures and certainly will comeback for more. Thank you for these wonderful images of Vietnam and its people.

-- Quyen

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Feedback for Family Magic in Orlando

Great article!!! Makes me want to go back and experience it ALL all over again.

-- Ariane – Chicago

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Feedback for Mohonk

I love your signature and the writing (in "Mohonk: Sumptuous Old-World Flavor Tastefully Wrapped in Casual Elegance")... but the place is a bit expensive... more like the Romney types! Is Vic a "photographer" or does he just take pretty good pictures?

-- John Strauss – Campton Hills, IL

Hi John,

Thanks so much for your kind comments. Much appreciated! Yes, I do know Mohonk is expensive -- as is true for so many of the fine resorts -- but it is a historical structure that has been in operation for so many years and offers so many activity options for the whole family without nickel and diming the guest, that for those who can afford it, it actually is somewhat of a bargain.

And no, Vic is not a "real" photographer as much as he is a travel writer in his own right, but sometimes, as he says, he does get lucky.

Again, thanks for your feedback.

Fyllis

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Feedback for the Road to Hana

We enjoyed seeing the Road to Hana from a helicopter! After you get to Hana you've still got to make the return journey. Thanks but no thanks!

-- Betsy Tuel – Rosendale, NY

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Feedback for Dominican Republic

Thank you, Fyllis, for this engaging tour. For years I thought the Dominican Republic was all-tourists, all-the-time. You just made me want to go there! (those waterfall adventures look like great fun)

-- Richard F. – Saugerties

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Feedback for Traveling the Canadian Rockies

We (our family) also took The Rocky Mountaineer (gold leaf) in early June 2011. Great memories! Great food! Great service! I am sorry to hear about this labor dispute, as clearly, the attendants were a HUGE part of the experience. They felt like friends by the end of the trip. Good luck to all employees!

-- Susie – Hana

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Hi Fyllis,

I am one of the locked out onboard attendants. I enjoyed reading your lovely writing based on the trip you took with the level of service that was delivered until June 22, 2011. It is misleading to share this review at this time. Many current guests are dismayed when they experience the low level of service which does not live up to what this blog post boasts. The company is not even responding to the complaints of their guests who have paid top dollar, and are now consistently ignored when they write to ask for a refund. If you do not believe me, go to Trip Advisor and read the recent reviews. There are a few good ones, and they are almost all from pre-lock out dates. Many of those are from complimentary trips and the company seems to be pressuring them to post positive reviews. If you are unaware of what is happening, please consider visiting a site which has many news stories and letters of support from guests and local politicians.

--- City: onboard – Vancouver

Can I ask when this article was written? One of the managers onboard would have been travelling on it for more than 6 years by now...last I heard Shauna was in Edmonton.

--- tnoakes – Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Whomever --

I am so very sorry to hear about the lockout and the bad feelings that have been engendered between management and employees. It was not a situation I knew anything about and realize the timing of my article indeed was unfortunate.

What I wrote about was based totally on my personal experience and only reflects my trip at that time. Please accept my apologies for the difficulties current and former employees are now experiencing and the apparent disparate levels of service experienced by me and more recent guests. It was not something I had any knowledge of.

Fyllis, TravelingBoy


Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: Piped Inside Ashford Castle (Dispatch #16)

sunset at Galway Bay

The Palladian Traveler enters into a world of regal elegance wrapped in Irish charm as he files his latest dispatch from inside one of the Emerald Isle's most storied fortresses.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Chuuk + Wrecks = Scuba Divers' Paradise

WW2 Japanese tank at the bottom of Chuuk Lagoon
As we dropped down to 25,000 feet I saw one of the most extraordinary panoramas I'd ever been lucky enough to witness. The majesty of it all and the stunning vistas that lay below and before me were spectacular. It was as beautiful as spring's first rose, and it made me understand why so many pilots on commercial jetliners love their job; they get to see so many awe-inspiring sights from the cockpit. My view was that of a vast vista of the Pacific.

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing as the Man who Lived There

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from the president during Black History Month – Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job... – it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC – surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself – would be a good place to start.

Go There


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