You can actually get a wine wellness treatment without entering a wine cellar. That is called vinotherapy, vine or wine therapy. Winalist introduces you to this well-being technique that uses the virtues of vines and tells you about the economic benefits for the wine regions that host wine spas.
Uncorking the secrets of wine therapy, the vintage wine of wellness treatment
A youth treatment. Wine Therapy is a beauty or well-being treatment based on the residues of wine production, usually grape seeds and vine extracts. Coupled with a mineral-rich and geothermally heated water, these residues are used in relaxing, firming and anti-aging cures. These body therapies include baths, massages, masks, scrubs or wraps.
Why does the vine make you feel good? Japanese culture has long recognized the virtues of wine as a hygienic product and as a cure for diseases, way before water. The reason lies in the polyphenols from grape seeds. These are the most powerful anti-oxidant in the plant world, they improve skin microcirculation and also have slimming and soothing properties. Vinotherapy also combines them with grape-seed oil, wine yeasts, tannins, anthocyanins, extracts of red vine leaves and essential oils.
Caudalie is the wine therapy brand and is getting as famous as other great French cosmetics brands. It all began in 1993 when the daughter of the Bordeaux Château Smith Haut Laffite vineyard owners, Mathilde Cathiard Thomas met with Joseph Vercauteren who was a professor at the University of Montpellier and a polyphenols world specialist. The brand Caudalie was then created in 1995 and filed a lot of patents: grape seed polyphenol, vine shoots resveratrol (great against wrinkles), vine sap viniferin (that gives glow to the skin, is anti skim-blemish and more effective than vitamin C).
In 1999, the world first wine therapy center “Les Sources de Caudalie” was born near Bordeaux, in the heart of the Smith Haut-Laffite vineyard. This institute offers a spa treatment on the same principle as balneological or thalassotherapy resorts do, but instead of seawater or algae, the grape seed polyphenols are the ones acting on your skin.
A second spa “Les Etangs de Corot” has set up near Paris at Avray since 2008. Other famous wine properties now welcome spas that are specialized in wine therapy such as in Colmar. There, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape has hosted a wine therapy center ran by Geomology since June.
The popularity of wine spas goes beyond the borders of France. The development of Caudalie institutes continues under franchises resorts in El Ciego (Spain), Istanbul, Porto, Lisbon and recently in New York within the famous Plaza Hotel on the edge of Central Park.
Wine therapy at home. Caudalie also launched a vinotherapy line of cosmetics that are available in pharmacies and drugstores. Just like in their spas, Caudalie cosmetics are made with grappe-seed and red vine leaves extracts and got so popular that major cosmetics brands followed the trend. It’s the case of Estée Lauder, Vinocure and even Dior.
Some great economic benefits for the regions that host wine spas.
Caudalie spas mainly attract a wealthy clientele, half-French and half-foreign. Indeed, these centers combine wellness and luxury with 4 or 5 stars for their hotel, gourmet restaurants, wine tasting workshops or even golf courses. For 15 minutes of an exfoliating bath with grape seed, you will pay €65 and a 50 minute-massage with grapes will cost you €105, for example. Even if all Bordeaux inhabitants cannot afford a stay, their region enjoys wine tourism economic benefits.
Bordeaux region in the spotlight. Bordeaux is the city that hosted the world first wine spa 15 years ago and since then Caudalie has been able to stimulate the region’s economy by attracting thousands of tourists. Bordeaux was already among wine tourists favorite destinations in France but inhabitants did a great job creating new activities to complete the spa’s visitors stay and hence benefit from the extra revenues from this population of wine tourists brought by the spa.
Vinotherapy spas make a great wine tourism experience beneficial to the hosting regions. Caudalies spas are promoting wine tourism. Vinotherapy promotes health and well-being through vines while the complementary activities that are offered allow to discover wines directly in their native area, as well as meeting with the people who create them. According to Jérôme Tourbier, owner of Caudalie spas, “organizing wine tastings directly on the properties is creating attachment from customers, hence loyalty, which is easier than when you send them a tasting box”. The spas use local suppliers for their restaurants and for their service providers and in Bordeaux, Caudalie created 160 jobs.
More than just an art of natural well-being, vinotherapy is a celebration of the vineyard and a great opportunity for wine tourism. Caudalie wine spas are soon expected in Alsace and in Provence!
Also published on Medium.