Travel destinations

The best travel destinations for wine lovers, according to experts

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If you’re a wine drinker, chances are you’ve tasted wines from (and maybe even visited) hotspots like Napa, California, Italy and France. We know them, we love them, but since we also have a taste for adventure and love every opportunity to broaden our horizons, we have made it our mission lately to unearth the hidden nuggets of the world. some wine. delighted with the top wineries nestled in a specific part of Canada. And inspired by this discovery – and the fact that wines can quite hold their own in a taste test against those “heavy hitters” mentioned above – we enlisted a handful of wine experts to share their places. secrets.

Our professional panel:

  • Mike Fayad, the general manager of the Hearth and Hill in Park City (where he oversees the wine program)
  • Mark Osburn, Head of Daily Discoveries at SumSelect in Napa, California
  • Brianne Cohena certified sommelier and wine educator based in Los Angeles
  • Amy Mundwiler, Director of Wines at Maple & Ash modern steakhouse in chicago
  • Portland, Oregon-based Wine App Sourcing Manager Greg Bybee vivino
  • Julie Peterson, Managing Partner of Marq Wine Group in Washington D.C.

    What to look for in the best wine destinations

    When looking for a wine-centric region that’s a bit off the beaten path, look for a region that offers passion and immersion, says Osburn.

    “Rich stories and breathtaking terroirs will always serve to showcase a wine region, but what makes them truly memorable are the people; these winegrowers who have a real unbridled passion for their terroir and their wines. It’s their livelihood, their precious oxygen,” he explains. “And when they start sharing their vast knowledge and intimate stories – while uncorking special wines and showing you around the vineyards – it’s the golden ticket to an unforgettable experience.”

    There are so many amazing wine regions that are steeped in these very old and very rich wine cultures, says Peterson. And who are very diverse in the grapes they grow, the land they are grown on, and the resulting wines.

    “The United States imports only about 25% of the wine consumed here, and the majority is made up of Italian and French wines. But there are ancient wine regions all over the world. We just haven’t had much access to these wines and the rich cultures they represent. So for those with an adventurous spirit, but who want to experience food and wine, these wine regions are up to the task,” she says.

    It’s not just about the wine, however. Every sommelier we spoke to confirmed that one of the best barometers of a good wine destination is the food. There should also be more than a wine tasting to keep you busy, adds Mundwiler. You can only safely and comfortably sip so much before you have to call it a day. (So ​​with that in mind, now is a good time to remind yourself that it’s important to drink in moderation and book a driver or plan to walk from winery to winery.)

    “It’s all about balance. Plan your wine trip around other things going on in the area. Immerse yourself in the culture, get to know the people, drink wine, hang out at the winery, eat the local snacks, stroll through museums and shops…to love wine is to love people and their culture says Mundwiler.

    Here, the best travel destinations for wine lovers.

    Canary Islands, Spain

    While Spain itself isn’t exactly “off the beaten track,” the Canary Islands are quite far from the country’s main wine regions, Fayad says. For stunning scenery, humble hospitality and bottles that express the unique landscape, the Canary Islands are definitely worth a visit.

    “Located off the coast of Morocco, Tenerife is around a four-hour flight from Madrid, but boasts some of the most exciting wines the country has to offer. Winemakers in the Canary Islands work with native grape varieties, primarily listan blanco and listan negro, and harvest almost exclusively by hand from high-altitude vineyards overlooking the Atlantic Ocean,” says Fayad.

    At 12,000 feet, the dormant volcano of Mount Teide towers over the island of Tenerife, creating a wonderful microclimate for the tangled mass of braided vines trained in the region’s ancient ‘trenzado’ method.

    “This Spanish archipelago is a lush Shangri-La rising from the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles off the West African coast. If you are short on time (I recommend no less than five days), I advise you to stay in Tenerife. Not only is it the largest of the seven islands and the most extensive in terms of wine production, it is also ranked among the best climates on the planet,” says Osburn.

    The Greek Islands

    “With no disrespect to the mainland, but you can really get lost in the beauty and diversity of the many Greek islands. Two that should be at the top of your bucket list are Santorini and Crete,” says Osburn.

    Santorini’s crescent-shaped landscape is the result of an ancient catastrophic volcanic eruption that rained down metric tons of ash and pumice. Today these particular vines, which sit low to the ground, erect like a knotted crown, are rooted deep in the soils of Santorini.

    The varietal of choice here is Assyrtiko, “and I firmly believe it is among the most noble and remarkably distinct varietals in the world,” Osburn adds.

    Crete is a mountainous, elongated island that is around 100 times the size of Santorini, so it produces a much wider range of wine styles. From lush green plateaus to snow-capped mountains to expansive valleys, “it’s like dinosaurs roaming this vinous wonderland yesterday,” Osburn recalled of his visit there.

    Portugal

    Did you know that more than half of the world’s cork production comes from the Alentejo region of Portugal alone? It is also home to world-class wines thanks to the hot, dry weather and mixed landscape, including valleys, mountains, plains and gentle hills. With plenty of intense, robust, well-made red wines to show off, Alentejo residents are investing heavily in wine tourism, says Mundwiler. Many wineries have attached hotels and restaurants, making for a stress-free getaway.

    Georgia

    This small, mountainous country along the Black Sea next to Turkey is probably the oldest wine region in the world, dating back 8,000 years, says Peterson. natural cooling temperature,” she explains.

    Often, after achieving a certain notoriety, many wine regions change their winemaking and production to meet market demand. The Republic of Georgia has remained true to its long and rich winemaking history, Fayad says, and the qvervi (AKA kveri) are an iconic example of that truth and the country as a whole.

    “Georgia winemakers work exclusively with native grape varieties, so if you’re looking for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, travel elsewhere! They make a minimal intervention style of wine, which is devoid of many additives common in winemaking,” says Fayad, similar to some of the natural wines you might see on restaurant menus and store shelves in the United States. .

    Austria

    While the architecture and landscape in Austria are worth seeing, “Austrian wine is often underestimated in the international market, and the wine regions are certainly spectacular,” says Fayad.

    The white wines, made from Grüner Veltliner and Riesling grapes, are particularly noteworthy and have been an Austrian wine specialty for hundreds of years. Wachau in particular is an Osburn favourite: “This UNESCO World Heritage Site hugs the Danube and is home to a litany of terrifyingly steep terraced vineyards and awe-inspiring vineyards backed by centuries and centuries of history.”

    Fly to Vienna and visit the vineyards overlooking the city, traveling from stop to stop by bike via “wine lanes,” suggests Peterson, then head to Wachau to conclude your Wachau tour.

    England

    Despite very cold winters, parts of England, including Sussex, produce exceptional wines.

    “The freezing temperatures have opened up the possibility of producing sparkling wines from the famous Champagne grape varieties. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the most suitable grape varieties for the climate and have recognized Sussex as a remarkable wine region,” says Bybee.

    The current supply of English wines in the United States is quite limited, “but as demand grows for these trending wines, we will start to see more widespread availability,” he adds.

    For now, book a flight and buck the trend to taste the bubbles of their home country (and maybe bring back a few bottles in your checked suitcase).

    Mexico

    Located just across the Mexican border and less than a 4-hour drive from Los Angeles, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico is Cohen’s favorite up-and-coming wine destination. As this is a new region, many experiments are underway. Currently, Mexican nebbiolo red wine in particular is exceptional, she says. Come for the food (the seafood is plentiful and excellent) and stay for the wine.

    “This Baja California wine country is the most exciting thing to happen on the West Coast when it comes to wine. Where else can you go and enjoy the Mexican flavor and hospitality that we all love, with the added benefit of a wine country setting?” Cohen asks. “I’ll give you a hint: nowhere!”

    Unexpected parts of the United States

    For something even closer to home and for those looking for passport-free wine destinations, the options are endless. To avoid the crowds in California and Oregon, try one of these vineyard-filled states.

    • New York: Riesling is the grape that put New York on the international wine map in 1962. fierce minerality and beautiful structure, and even developing over time some of the famous petroleum notes in the German examples,” explains Bybee. Sparkling wines, other off-dry whites like Gewürztraminer, and cool-climate red varieties like Blaufrankisch and Cabernet Franc also thrive here.
    • Vermont: Wineries in this northeastern state are experimenting with hybrid varietals in a minimal intervention style, often co-fermenting orchard fruits with their grapes. “These wines are unlike anything ever tasted in a conventional sense, but are growing in popularity and popularity,” Fayad says.
    • Idaho: As a neighbor to Oregon, it’s no wonder Idaho’s soil produces beautiful grapes for wine. Sample some or all of the state’s 65 wineries, which offer a wide range of popular varietals including Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Syrah.
    • Texas“There are more than 50 wineries dotted around the Texas Hill Country, and the style of production is artisanal yet bold and classic,” says Fayad. The vineyards produce mostly grapes you already know and love, like Cabernet Sauvignon, “but the quality is high, and the hospitality and vibe are distinctly southern.”

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