Where to go when you can savor the best champagne, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and other world-class wines? Are you a true wine enthusiast always looking for that next adventure? Sure, oenophiles will readily check out the top wine destinations like France, Spain, Italy, and Napa Valley/Sonoma Valley in the USA.
But if you’re more open, there are actually a lot more vinicultural destinations than you are aware of. Some of them are situated in unique places and landscapes that you least expect. Aside from the location that will definitely bring out your curiosity, these under-the-radar wine destinations produce delicious and exciting varietals. Chardonnays in Ethiopia? Sparkling wines in Tasmania? White wines on a South Pacific atoll? How making a toast in Mount Etna? You bet!
If you’re a wine lover and want to enjoy a wine experience that’s away from the usual wine tour, venture to these following places.
About 62 miles south-east of the capital city Bangkok lies another city named Pattaya, which is known the world over for its gorgeous beach resorts and awe-inspiring Buddhist temples. But they’re not the only ones you should see in Pattaya. Look beyond the palm-fringed shores and explore the tropical countryside to look for something that you’d never thought exist there — such as a vineyard.
The Silverlake Vineyard makes you feel like you’re more in Tuscany than in Thailand, with neat rows of grapevines, red-tiled terra cotta roofs and tall poplar trees that complete the Mediterranean-like scenery. It definitely gives off a serene and whimsical vibe — perfect for couples who want to have a quick romantic getaway from the city, or for singles who want to spend a quiet, stress-free vacay. But it’s not just the beautiful landscape that Silverlake Vineyards boasts about. Even serious wine lovers will be surprised and delighted by the tasty and spicy Shirazi red wines, the Chenin Blanc with a more honeyed and floral aroma, and the fruity Rosé Grande.
There’s another Thai vineyard that’s located in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. It is called Monsoon Valley that’s nestled among the hills and the forests. According to the winery, the monsoon is the only season they can get rainwater, which they will use to irrigate the vineyards during the hotter, drier months.
This beautiful winery carries the flagship Cuvee de Siam Blanc, Cuvee de Siam Rouge, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Brut Blanc de Blanc and Rose Extra Dry. In addition, the winery also sells Classic and Premium editions.
2. Tahiti, French Polynesia
You will be surprised to find a winery in the more distant French Polynesian islands. Vin de Tahiti is located on the world’s largest atoll, the Rangiroa. This makes Vin de Tahiti the only winery in the world that’s located on an atoll, and the only place where you can see grapes being transported by boats after the harvest!
Vin de Tahiti boasts six acres of vineyards flanked by tall coconut trees; it’s just a few walks away from the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean. The vineyards themselves are collectively known as “Domaine Ampélidacées.”
Presently, the winery only produces white and rosé wines; nevertheless, they present refreshing flavors that would excite any jaded wine-drinker’s taste buds. Their premium product, Blanc de Corral, is made from Italia and Muscat de Hambourg grapes. It has a bright flavor, giving off hints of pineapple, mango and candied bananas — truly the taste of tropical paradise no matter in the world you’re taking it. It is said to be best paired with seafood.
3. British Columbia, Canada
Probably due to climate change, wine making is now no longer confined to places that typically feature a Mediterranean climate. Otherwise, it’s now possible to grow wine grapes in the tropics as well as colder regions like Canada.
The maple country is not the first thing you’d think of when talking about wines, but you’ll be surprised to discover that it does have at least one wine-growing region. The Okanagan Valley, for instance, is located in the province of British Columbia. The area has a Continental climate – hot summers, frigid winters and little rainfall — which is considered ideal for growing wine grapes.
The Okanagan Valley boasts over 60 grape varieties grown locally, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
4. Tasmania, Australia
This small island state, located off the southern coast of the mainland Australia, has a typical temperate climate which is perfect for growing wine grapes. In fact, Tasmania was one of the earliest regions in Australia to be planted with grapes to make wines. It is being said that Tasmania has great-tasting champagnes or sparkling wines, although it also produces red wines.
For instance, the Jansz Vineyards uses the same grapes like those from the French vineyards, and employs the same method like the French winemakers do in producing Champagne. This is the closest to the authentic Champagne you can get, miles away from France.
5. Hawaii, USA
Another wine destination that you should include to your wine tour bucket list is Hawaii. The island may be more famous for its white and black sand beaches and volcanoes rather than its wines. However, you’ll be surprised to discover that wine making is actually an established industry in Hawaii — albeit quietly.
The fertile volcanic soils are probably one of the reasons for Hawaii’s full-flavored and delicious wines. MauiWine is one of the well-known wineries on the island. It is located 2,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of the Haleakalā volcano; the vineyards themselves are called Ululpalakua. Apart from the white, red and sparkling wines, a visit to the MauiWines may not be complete without sampling (and taking home) their refreshingly sweet pineapple wines, made from handpicked Maui Gold pineapples
6. Mount Etna, Italy
Although the Italian wine industry is mostly centered on Tuscany, you can also find delicious wines somewhere else in the country. There’s a more interesting wine region in the island of Sicily, specifically on the steep slopes of Mount Etna. Europe’s biggest and most active volcano might be a dangerous terroir to grow wine grapes. But the fertile soils, high altitude and wildly unpredictable weather are the secrets to the unique and complex flavors of Mount Etna’s wines.
In fact, Mount Etna is one of the most ancient wine regions in Italy. But in later centuries its popularity faded into obscurity, and it wasn’t until quite recently that Mount Etna has regained its reputation as one of the renowned wine regions in the country. While Mount Etna continues to fume and spew, the wine making business still goes on among the locals.
The Carricante white grape is indigenous to Mount Etna. The grapes are made into wine products like the Bianco Di Caselle, which has fruity, mineral and acidic hints.
7. Ziway, Ethiopia
South Africa may lead the wine industry in the African continent, but more recent players have entered the field like Ethiopia. The sub-Saharan country may be more famous the world over for its coffee, but it definitely has the potential to rival South Africa in the wine industry. French firm Castel Winery has set up shop in the province of Ziway. Currently, it produces over 1.5 million bottles of wine under the Rift Valley brand, half of them going for export.
The varietals like Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay come from Ziway’s lakefront vineyards. One of the famous wines are the Chardonnays, which are best paired with seafood, steamed fish, and mild cheeses.