These days, it seems that nearly every new restaurant shouts its farm-to-table commitment across social media, and hotels have entered into an arms race of experiences designed to get you closer than ever to your favorite foods and wines (for nine truly exceptional ones, take a peek at these culinary adventures). But despite this year-round culinary buzz, the best time of the year to dig into your inner gourmand is the fall. From California’s annual Crush event to truffle hunting in the hills of Italy, there are plenty of places where you can get in on all of the harvest action once the season changes—and that deep sip of Cab or bite of truffle-coated pasta is all the more satisfying after you’ve had a hand in putting it on the table.
At the following four hotels across Italy and California, you can get an inside look at some of the season’s delicacies and, after days out in the field or vineyard, take your place alongside those who have spent a lifetime developing close ties to working and caring for the land. Getting your hands dirty never tasted quite so good.
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco
Kick off the season in opulent style in the Tuscan countryside at Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco. The property, owned by the fashionable Ferragamo family, is one of the few in the region to have its own on-site winery—and, of course, lets guests get in on the highly anticipated harvest, taking place from September 15 to 22. Before heading out into the Capanna Vineyard, guests will be given a quick lesson and then set loose to help pick grapes alongside the experts. They’ll then jump forward in the process with a wine tasting before going back to learn about the grape selection, fermentation, and aging phases of winemaking.
Afterward, guests can head back to their elegant villa for a dip in their private pool or to the spa for a well-earned 80-minute treatment. They’ll also be treated to a picnic on the vineyards full of produce harvested (by the chef this time around) from the estate’s organic garden.
Piedmont Cycling Tour
For an experience that balances indulgence with activity, join Turissimo’s Slow Food Cycling Tour of Piedmont. The Italian outfitter has tapped chefs Benjamin Cohn and Marc Meyer (of Westside Tavern in Los Angeles and Cookshop in New York, respectively) to lead a weeklong cycling tour in early October through the bucolic region—stopping at as many Michelin-starred restaurants as possible along the way. From their home base at Albergo dell’Agenzia, a historic hotel that was once home to King Carlo Alberto of Savoy, guests will set out each day to hit some of the region’s most famous towns, meandering their way through the UNESCO World Heritage–designated Lagne and Roero areas to sample the Barolos and Barbarescos that made the region famous.
Other days will be spent focused on food—truffle hunting with a professional trifulau and his dogs in the hills of Alba, attending lectures on the Slow Food movement at the University of Gastronomical Sciences, and eating their way through Michelin-starred restaurants like Piazza Duomo, Villa d’Amelia, and Guido Ristorante.
Northern California’s Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resorts Collection property, takes harvest season seriously—rolling out a host of Camp Crush experiences annually to celebrate Napa Valley’s favorite time of year. Guests can enjoy the range of activities as they wish, squeezing in a hike to nearby Davis Estates Winery (where a wine tasting will await) and a lesson in Shibori dyeing with wine in between cooking classes and pool lounging. Or, oenophiles can go all in, combining all of them into a wine-packed weekend. There is also plenty of opportunity to get in on the action, as guests can lend a hand by picking grapes during harvest mornings or embark on a family stomp and vintage blending experience, where they will be sent home with a custom bottle of wine designed to suit their tastes exactly.
Rocco Forte Hotels Italian Culinary Secrets
As a delicious take on the grand tour, this fall, three Rocco Forte hotels across Italy have teamed up to string together a circuit of experiences that will whisk guests from Sicily to Rome and finally to Florence over the course of 16 days. Led by Michelin-starred chef Fulvio Pierangelini, the Italian Culinary Secrets experience kicks off in late October at Verdura Resort, where guests will split their time between the beach and the hillsides learning the art of olive-oil harvesting. They’ll help farmers pick olives from the island’s many groves before heading to a mill, where they will get to watch (and taste) the oil being pressed. After a three-day break, guests will meet in Rome with Pierangelini, who will lead a tour of the city’s vibrant street food and market scene. Trips out to the farms and wineries along the ancient Appian Way will be topped off with a cooking class hosted by the chef as well as dinner at Le Jardin de Russie restaurant at the stylish Hotel de Russie.
From there, guests will make their way down to Florence where the recently renovated Hotel Savoy will serve as their home base. Time exploring San Lorenzo market with the chef will be complemented with day trips out to the countryside, where guests will search for the exquisite white truffle of San Miniato and taste some of the region’s finest wines. The three tours are also available to be booked individually, should that level of indulgence be too much for any one gourmand.