Grape adventures with vinotherapy in Bordeaux

A look inside the original wine spa: Les Sources de Caudalie

On a holiday in Bordeaux, one thing is never far from reach: a glass of crisp white or deep red wine. Meals with wine flights and an evening or two of tasting are almost a given – as are visits to some of the region’s celebrated châteaux. Les Sources de Caudalie, however, takes grape worship to new heights. Set in the vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte, this boutique Bordeaux hotel and spa puts this region on the map for another reason – as the home of vinothérapie.

Secrets of the grapevine

In the ancient world wine was revered as a medicinal, almost mystical, drink, and one kept only for the well-to-do. Ever since, this reputation is one that’s proved difficult to shake off. For example, when people in the 1970s and ‘80s began to wonder why the French had such healthy hearts despite enjoying a very rich diet, scientists decided to investigate. They found this so-called French Paradox could be down to red wine.

Most wine, and red wine in particular, is brimming with antioxidants, which are thought to protect the body’s cells from some of the stress and damage that comes with ageing. If it could work this magic on the inside, could it do the same on the outside? Mathilde Cathiard, whose family owns Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyard, was ready to find out. Together with scientists from Bordeaux University, Mathilde created the Caudalie line of skincare products using specially formulated grape extracts.

A sneak peek at the treatments

All natural wood beams, soaring windows and stone floors, the spacious building at Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa is designed to be a temple to relaxation. Devotees come here to soak up the goodness of the grape, with treatments including:

  • • Crushed cabernet scrub – the most popular introduction to the Caudalie Vinothérapie® experience, using a natural scrub of honey, brown sugar and Cabernet grape seeds from the Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyard. A sweet start.
  • Honey and wine wrap – a warming, nourishing wrap that’s said to soothe and moisturise skin while boosting its natural defences.
  • Pulp Friction massage – with points for the name alone, this energising massage also exfoliates skin for lasting softness.
  • Barrel bath – take hot, natural spring water before. Adding a decadent dose of revitalising grape extract. And you have a bath made for Dionysus himself.
  • •Vinosource facial – a fresh grape-based treat designed to bring radiance back to dry skin. A long, sculpting massage and moisturising mask promise utter bliss.

The more the merrier? As the best spa therapists will tell you, it’s important to stay hydrated between treatments. At Les Sources de Caudalie, the drink of choice is… mineral water. Drinking wine with vinothérapie will just make you feel woozy.

Beyond Bordeaux

Of course, Bordeaux isn’t the only famous wine area in the world, so it’s no surprise that it’s not the only place you’ll find vinothérapie spas. From Mendoza to Tuscany, many grape-growing regions offer their own versions of this juicy treatment.

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel & Spa – Salamanca, Spain…Exfoliating grape seed scrubs using grapes from the hotel vineyards.

• Entre Cielos – Mendoza, Argentina…Wine baths and nourishing body wraps using mineral-rich grape extracts.

• Thalatta Seaside Hotel – Evia, Greece…Detox scrubs and wraps including Syrah grape and green tea extracts for smooth, glowing skin.

• Grand Barrail Château Hôtel & Spa – Saint- Emilion, Aquitaine, France…Stimulating grape-based face and body wellness treatments.