Virtuoso Life November 2017 Why I Travel: Samantha Breton

Why I Travel: Samantha Breton

Patrice and Samantha Breton on the London Eye.
Patrice and Samantha Breton on the London Eye.
Photo by Samantha Breton
Winemakers Samantha and Patrice Breton savor the world by the glass.

At Vice Versa, a small-production winery in Saint Helena, French Canadians Patrice and Samantha Breton collaborate with Philippe Melka and other renowned winemakers to turn out some of the top-rated high-end cabernets in Napa Valley. All that harvesting, pressing, crushing, and bottling takes toil, Samantha explains, so they squeeze in as much travel as possible to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Their San Francisco-based travel advisors, Michelle and Roderick Murré, design trips built around local flavors and exceptional taste. 
 
As winemakers, we work really hard. So when we travel, we go all out. We want comfort, luxury, rare experiences, and the best of the best of the best when it comes to food and drink. It’s how we reset.  
 
Wine leads the way. Last year, we went to France and spent time in Champagne, staying at Domaine Les Crayères. We didn’t want to go to the big houses – we prefer to see small growers that are difficult to find in the U.S. In the village of Avize, we visited Jacques-Selosse, which makes incredible Champagne. You can’t buy it, but they have bottles on the list at Les Avisés restaurant, which is run by Jacques’ son, Anselme, and daughter-in-law, Corinne. We sat with the owners and their adorable beagle and had the greatest night.

The Bay of Naples, shot from the Bretons’ room at J.K. Place Capri.
The Bay of Naples, shot from the Bretons’ room at J.K. Place Capri.
Photo by Samantha Breton

Three weeks in Italy: We started in the north and ended in the south. It was all about wine – Barolo, Barbaresco, brunello, super Tuscans, sangiovese. Roderick and Michelle arranged one of the most incredible experiences – I don’t know how they did it. Angelo Gaja is an Italian winemaker who really put Barbaresco on the map. His winery doesn’t usually do tastings, but there we were, sipping and talking with Angelo himself. 
 
In winter, we need a beach. Last January, we spent three weeks in Cabo at The Cape hotel. When we arrived, the GM and the head chef greeted us and said, “Since you’re here for a long time, if you get tired of the food, we can do anything for you.” The last day, the chef made us a special dinner of beautiful tuna collar. 
 
With our advisors, it’s an inclusive service. Michelle and Roderick take care of everything: the plane, the hotel, the restaurants, the tours. When you’re busy, you don’t want to deal with the thousand little details of putting a trip together. We’re happy to leave it in the hands of experts who understand our style and taste.  

A great guide can make a trip. Patrice loves history; his grandfather fought in World War II, so we wanted to go to the beach in Normandy. Our guide was an ex-general who fought in the war. He had so much energy and so many personal stories that it really brought the past to life. 
 
As locals in wine country, we get to know the best places. There’s a great steak house in Saint Helena called Press – the service and the food are amazing. Meadowood for lunch is phenomenal, and there’s a croquet lawn where you have to dress in all white and can play while enjoying great cocktails. Realm Cellars is one of our favorite wineries, and Continuum on Pritchard Hill is another beautiful estate. 
 
Don’t be intimidated by a wine list. The secret is really talking with the sommelier and letting that person guide you. Say what you typically drink or if you’d like to try something different. We travel to discover the wines from the region and what works best with the local food.
 
We always travel with wine and bring wine home. We have a wine suitcase from a company called VinGarde. It fits 12 bottles, which lets us bring our own wine to give to people, and then bring back whatever we find and love. 

Waiting for the ferry in Positano, Italy.
Waiting for the ferry in Positano, Italy.
Photo by Samantha Breton

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