Awe meets trepidation in Nassau wine cellar tour

I once managed to accidentally bump my grocery shopping cart onto a wine rack. While it simply wobbled and no bottles fell to a red, shattered end, I thought of this moment and reminded to myself not to do anything similar when entering the wine cellar at the Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant in Nassau.

It’s no ordinary wine collection. Valued at more than $20 million, the collection has more than 275,000 bottles from more than 1,000 vintners from 20 countries. It has a rack that is referred to as “the million-dollar wall,” about 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Suddenly my thoughts returned to the grocery store. 

Feeling a slight chill in the cellar air, I was in awe that the tour, available to hotel and restaurant guests, kept going and going, room after room, each filled to the brim with bottles. The cellar houses the third-largest collection in the world. Among its prized inclusions are a 1865 Chateau Lafite and one of the oldest and most expensive bottles in the world, a 1727 Rudesheimer Apostelwein valued at $200,000. Because of its high sugar content, it’s reportedly still drinkable. 

Last week, the storied establishment, originally built in 1740 by pirate John Howard Graysmith, won six regional awards (South and Central America and Caribbean) as part of The World of Wine’s “World’s Best Wine Lists Awards.” The prevailing categories won were best hotel wine list, designed wine list, Champagne and sparkling wine list, dessert and fortified wine list, long wine list and spirits list.

That translates to a wine list that is 120 pages long at the Graycliff Restaurant, which holds wine-and-cheese pairings including at least eight wines. Prices are prorated, with four or more guests costing $250 each and two guests costing $500 each. Back at the cellar, a private, swanky dining experience ($1,000) allows guests to enjoy their meal, and presumably wine, while surrounded by, you guessed it, more wine bottles. 

Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant has received the World of Fine Wine 3-Star Award annually since 2014 and the Wine Spectator Grand Award annually since 1988. This year, Graycliff qualified for consideration in the global category awards and the 2023 Star Awards, which will be announced at the World’s Best Wine Lists awards ceremony in London in September.

Graycliff offers 20 rooms and suites, the Graycliff Cigar Company, the Graycliff Chocolatier and Bahama Barrel by Graycliff a winery in the Bahamas, where guests can taste and blend their own wines.

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