Napa Valley Wine Tours and chateaux stays in Bordeaux are not to be sniffed at (pun intended).
But if you’re into discovering new wine vintages and flavours, there are regions around the world that are offering unusual varieties and production methods as well as an outstanding quality.
Head to any of the following up-and-coming wine hotspots and your tastebuds will be blown.
The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia
Canada is the land of glacial blue lakes and snow-covered pine forests, but large parts of British Columbia actually have a climate well-suited for grapes. The Okanagan region in particular is not only mild and dry but also considerably quieter than Napa or Bordeaux, despite the number of wineries growing at a breakneck rate. And the vast Okanagan lake makes a blissful backdrop for a Pinot Noir- or Chardonnay-tasting at any of the local estates. Previously a sparsely-developed farming area, the abundance of cookery schools and farm-to-table food make the culinary offering here really stand out. Stay at Myra Canyon Ranch and you’ll have floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the Okanagan Valley, a verandah stretching all around the beautiful wooden building, and an outdoor jacuzzi with a view.
The Romanian wine industry is having a Renaissance
Having been almost completely obliterated under Soviet rule, the Romanian wine industry is now in the middle of a Renaissance. Wineries opened by young entrepreneurs offer tours, tastings (of locally-produced bread and olive oil as well as wine), and fine dining experiences. A new wave of smaller producers and an ethos of individuality means that Romanian wine is one of the world’s most promising current wine regions. Diana's Flat Bucharest is a lovely base from which to explore Romania, being situated a short distance from Bucharest’s Old Town and with uninterrupted river views.
Croatia has a huge variety of indigenous grapes
Despite an ancient wine-making tradition, Croatian wine doesn’t yet hold the same gravitas as some of its European neighbours. Crisp white wine is the country’s speciality, best enjoyed with a splash of ice cold sparkling water and some Croatian truffle-infused cured meat or olives in a rustic mountaintop town. Some international varieties like Merlot and Chardonnay are grown but Croatia also boasts a massive range of indigenous grapes, some of which have been claimed to be the origin of one of California’s most popular varieties, Zinfandel. Villa Residence Burgus-Antium is a rustic stone house draped in vines, only a short walk from the beach and with its own à la carte restaurant.
Georgia maintains its methods of fermenting grapes in clay jars
Cultivated vineyards existed in Georgia during the neolithic period and, incredibly, the methods used back then are still used and revered today - fermenting grapes in clay jars known as qvevri. An impressive range of indigenous varieties have survived, along with these traditional methods, giving Georgian wines a unique, sophisticated, and expressive quality. Apartment Old Town Levanto is the most highly-rated Booking.com property in Tbilisi, with an excellent, central location only a few hundred metres from Freedom Square.
Try a fruity, sparkling wine in Tasmania
Australian wines may get more international attention than those from Tasmania but it’s the latter that is truly coming into its own at the moment. Tasmania’s cool climate and its proximity to the sprawling vineyards of Australia have made it some of the world’s most sought-after vineyard property, largely specializing in lighter Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and an array of fruity, sparkling wines that give French Champagne a real run for its money. Freycinet Lodge is an incredible accommodation in the middle of a National Park. Enjoy views of Great Oyster Bay from your private balcony, a local wine-tasting in the restaurant, and sunset walks on the beach.
Texas Hill Country has produced countless award-winning wines
Surprisingly, Texan vines were actually planted over a century before those in sunny California but Prohibition spelt the end of the Texan wine industry, until it experienced a revival in the 1970s with the founding of a few forward-thinking wineries. Many of the wines found in the state grow around the Austin area; take a tour of the Texas Hill Country and you’ll find tastings offering samples of some of the area’s award-winning wines. Austin wines tend to be made from native, or Mediterranean grapes, giving a special local twist to classic blends. The Hotel Granduca Austin is a luxurious property where the in-house Visconti Ristorante serves traditional northern Italian fare with local, seasonal ingredients and a variety of wines.