There’s more to vino than just Bordeaux. Think outside the bottle with a trip to these rising stars of the wine world.
The Caucasus may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of wine, but Georgia has a rich tradition of viticulture stretching all the way back to 6000 BC. In fact, the mountainous region’s ancient, underground fermentation process is considered so significant that it’s been recognised by UNESCO’S list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The rich soil fosters thousands of varietals – just be sure to go old-school with a low-tech, low-intervention drop.
Beqaa Valley, Lebanon
Another low-key wine juggernaut, Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley has been perfecting wine since biblical times. A Mediterranean climate and rich soil make this lush valley ideal for agriculture. While many local producers harvest European grapes, it’s the whites made from traditional varietals like obaideh and merwah that have the critics taking note.
Granite Belt, Australia
Queensland’s hot, tropical climate has made it synonymous with bananas but this high-altitude region has been quietly making a name for itself as a top producer of alternative variety wines – that is, wines that make up less than one per cent of total production. Look for unusual names like fiano, vermentino, chenin blanc, savagnin, barbera and graciano.
Waitaki Valley, New Zealand
Skip the obvious Marlborough sauvignon blancs and instead head southeast to Waitaki Valley – one of NZ’s newest and most exciting wine regions. Grape vines weren’t planted here until 2001, but the area’s picturesque lakes and idyllic mountains have proven just as hospitable to pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling as travellers looking to escape the city bustle.
The so-called “Napa of India” is a four-hour drive from Mumbai and offers the nation’s greatest variety of wines. High altitudes lend the region’s drops a distinctive high acidity, while luxe vineyard accommodations such as those found at Sula Vineyards make the area an attractive holiday spot.
Alcohol consumption is discouraged in many Muslim countries but northern Morocco’s proximity to Spain, combined with years of French colonial rule, meant the flourishing of traditional grapes like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. Production skews towards bold reds that pair beautifully with otherworldly vistas of the Atlas Mountains.
Willamette Valley, United States
Oregon is the fourth biggest wine producer in the US and has been fermenting grapes since the 1840s. Stretching from Columbia River in the north to Eugene in the south, the Willamette Valley’s cool, moist climate has created internationally acclaimed pinot noirs and grown a booming wine-tasting circuit.
More than 80 wineries mean Yamanashi prefecture accounts for 40 per cent of Japan’s wine production, with koshu grapes by far the most prevalent. Believed to have been introduced more than 1000 years ago by the Silk Road, koshu produces a light delicate drop that will appeal to pinot grigio fans.
Move over, South Africa. French-owned Castel Winery produces millions of bottles from its lakeside vineyards in Ziway, where grapes are protected from errant hyenas and hippos by wide trenches. Merlots, syrahs and chardonnays dominate the scene.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
White sand, swaying palms, coral reefs – and a nice day at the vineyard? That’s exactly what you’ll get at Rangiroa, the world’s only atoll vineyard and perhaps the wine world’s most experimental terroir.
Like most Greek islands, Kefalonia has cream beaches and blazing sunsets, laid-back tavernas and bougainvillea-framed laneways, steep hills and impossibly blue waters. But it's also one of the most exciting wine regions in Greece.