Immerse deep into the world of wine tourism to learn about some of the most unknown wine destinations. These countries shine for many reasons, but wine is absolutely not one of them! Even though they’re not yet in the wine map, they deserve a place in it! Let’s go around the globe to discover the coolest booming wine destinations!
Booming wine destinations around the world
I’m sure that when you think of wine, countries like France and Italy come to mind. If you dig a bit deeper you might add the United States, Chile or Australia to the list. And that’s logical. Those countries are the among the best wine destinations around the world. Now, if you’re a wine enthusiast, you might know of some more obscure winemaking countries, like Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, or any other of the underrated wine destinations in Europe.
But what if I told you that there’s high quality wine being produced in the Dominican Republic? Or that Canada is making “ice wine”? For sure you couldn’t imagine wine from the Israeli desert, right? Well, I recruited travel bloggers from all over to share their secrets about the most unknown yet booming wine destinations around the world. Dive into these off the beaten path wine tourism destinations, where you’ll see an overview of winemaking in the country, which regions and wineries to visit, and which labels not to miss.
Wine from Mexico
Overview of Mexican Wine
Mexico might be best known for its tequila and mezcal, but the country also produces high quality wine. Grapes were first planted in Mexico by the Spanish during the 16th century, and today there are a handful of regions where viticulture is thriving. The main red wine grapes include the five Bordeaux varietals as well as Syrah, Petite Syrah, Dolcetto, Tempranillo and Grenache, while white grapes include Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay.
Best regions and wineries in Mexico
There are three main areas where wine is grown in Mexico. In the north, there are the states of Baja and Sonora. La Laguna includes the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango. And the central region –also known as the Bajio region– is made up of the states of Queretaro, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes and Zacateca.
The majority of Mexican wine production takes place in the state of Baja California, a dry arid region that benefits from the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean. There are over 150 wineries on the Baja peninsula and the major winemaking regions are Valle de Guadalupe, Valle de Calafia, Valle de San Vincente, and Valle de Santo Tomás.
Of these, Valle de Guadalupe is undeniably the most famous. Dubbed the ‘Napa Valley of Mexico’, it’s home to boutique wineries, hip hotels (make sure to stay at Bruma while you’re here) and excellent restaurants. Located just 90 minutes from the California border, near the seaside port of Ensenada, it’s a popular destination for a weekend getaway, or a day tour. The parched, reddish-gold terrain is home to around 100 wine producers and grows some of the country’s best wine.
Mexican wines to try
As mentioned, some of the most popular wines are those that come from Valle de Guadalupe. These include both big name brands such as L.A. Cetto, and smaller, more boutique names like Vinas de Garza, Monte Xanic, Finca La Carodilla, and Vena Cava.
From La Laguna region, Casa Madero is the wine to try. Officially the oldest winery in the Americas (dating back to 1597), the winery has received numerous medals for its wine and, in 2012, they were the first certified organic vineyard in Mexico. Aim for Casa Madero 3V.
In the Bajio region there’s Dos Buhos, a winery located just outside San Miguel de Allende. Their wine appears on the menu of some of the country’s best restaurants. Make sure to try the Vino Tinto Tempranillo and the Grenache Rosado.
Katja from Globetotting fell in love with Mexican wines while living in Mexico City and is looking forward to returning to Valle de Guadalupe soon.
Wine from India
Overview of Indian Wine
India’s first winery was established in the 1980s, with the more serious and known wineries appearing only at the start of the 2000s. It’s interesting, however, that historical sources trace wine in India all the way back to the 13th century BC.
What sets the Indian wine industry apart is that most wineries don’t own the land in which the grapes grow. Instead, grapes are sourced from contracted farmers and are often supervised by a foreign winemaker. So, you’ll find French or Italian influences in the wine.
The major grape varieties produced by the country are Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc. Other grape varieties grown extensively are Zinfandel, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Riesling.
Best regions and wineries in India
Most of India’s wine regions are in the south-western part of the country, primarily in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Nasik district in Maharashtra is known as the wine capital of India, since the region produces 80% of the country’s wine. Be sure to visit Sula Vineyards, the largest wine producer in the country and Vallone Vineyards, a small but charming boutique winery. Nasik is a 3.5-hour drive from Mumbai, that can be reached by cab or bus. You can stay at the many hotels in the city or go for an immersive experience by staying in one of the many vineyards. The Source at Sula, Beyond by Sula and Soma Vine Village are particularly famous.
The more accessible and newer vineyards –including the Sula (Kadu Winery), Grover Zampa and Big Banyan– are located just an hour’s drive from Bangalore in Karnataka, so it’s easy to take a day trip by cab or an organized tour.
Indian wines to try
The most popular Indian wine labels that are available at every Indian bar and restaurant are Sula, Grover and Fratelli. Make sure to try Sette by Fratelli and La Reserve by Grover Zampa. Some boutique wineries labels to sample are Vallone Viognier Reserve, KRSMA Sangiovese, and Reveilo Cabernet Sauvignon.
Trisha of TryWanderingMore is an Indian, who has tried a large variety of Indian wines, and visited several wineries while living near the wine region in Maharashtra.
Wine from the Dominican Republic
Overview of Dominican wine
The Dominican Republic is usually known for endless beaches and wonderful excursions –but not for wine. Though, there is exactly one winery in the Dominican Republic, one of the only native wineries in the Caribbean. This is what should be called a booming wine destination!
While grapes need dry weather with a certain mix of sunshine and cooler temperatures, the tropical Caribbean climate usually can’t provide these characteristics. However, thanks to a specific microclimate between the mountainous area of Azua and the Caribbean Sea, the first winery of the Dominican Republic opened its doors in 2013.
Records are showing that already 500 years ago the first grapes were planted in the Azua region and later passed to Mexico. Now, half a millennium later, they are back in the Dominican Republic.
Best regions and wineries in the Dominican Republic
The area is completely off the beaten path. Compared to other places in the Dominican Republic, there is hardly any touristic infrastructure in Ocoa Bay, except some oceanfront villas from local Dominicans. The best place to stay in the area (approx. 30 kilometers away) is the boutique hotel Sava Salinas opposite of the famous dunes of Baní, the only desert in the Northern Caribbean.
When visiting Ocoa Bay, you can take part in a winery tour, taste the local wines, and have an organic meal at the winery’s restaurant.
Dominican wines to try
Ocoa Bay produces a fine selection of wine consisting of French Colombard (white wine), Moscato (rosé wine) and Tempranillo (red wine), just catering for the local upscale market. All wines are organic and influenced by the tropical climate. They are also producing a delicious mango-passionfruit drink.
Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog is living in the Dominican Republic since 2015 and has explored all those hidden gems you have never heard of, including the unknown area of Ocoa Bay.
Wine from Canada
Overview of Canadian wine
Canadian wine has exploded in popularity over the last thirty years, since producers largely shifted from using native grape species to quality wine grapes in the 1980s.
Significant geographic and climate diversity across the country results in the production of a wide variety of wines in different styles and the relatively new industry pushes producers to experiment and create wines that stand out. The cooler Canadian climate supports the production of lighter, aromatic white wines.
Canadian wines are regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance which guarantees authenticity and controls the appellation system in the country.
Best regions and wineries in Canada
Canada’s most well-known wine region is the Niagara Peninsula, which is located only an hour and a half drive from downtown Toronto, or about thirty minutes from Niagara Falls. The Niagara region is known for Pinot Noir and Ice Wine, and it’s home to over fifty wineries. Stay overnight in the charming town of Niagara-on-the-lake to easily visit recommended producers like Peller Estates Winery, Konzelmann Estate Winery, and Reif Estate Winery, or take a day tour to sample them all!
A more up and coming wine region located around two hours’ drive north east of Toronto is Prince Edward County, which offers many boutique inns and bed and breakfast style accommodation. Known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling options, recommended producers include Sandbanks Estate Winery, Closson Chase Winery and Rosehall Run Vineyards.
A favorite region for many Canadian wine lovers is the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Located four hours’ drive east of Vancouver, in the interior of the province, you can stay in the lakeside city of Kelowna for easy access to several well-regarded wineries such as Quail’s Gate Winery, Mission Hill Estate, and Sumac Ridge Estate. Known for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling, the short growing season also produces some excellent sparkling wines.
Canadian wines to try
A Canadian specialty is ice wine, which is produced using handpicked grapes that have been allowed to freeze on the vines, resulting in a deliciously sweet taste and concentrated flavor. Try one from Chateau des Charmes or Inniskillen in Niagara.
Claire from ClairePins Travel appreciates Canadian wines and has enjoyed exploring wine regions across the country.
Wine from Peru
Overview of Peruvian Wine
Peru is not the first South American country that comes to mind when you think of wine, but it has recently become a player in the global wine scene for all the right reasons. It’s the definition of a booming wine destination.
One thing to note is that Peruvian wine is produced in the desert under an extremely harsh climate, which makes for a distinct sweet flavor that might catch you off-guard on your first wine tasting session.
The grapes used in Peruvian wine are usually those that do well in hot climates, including Grenache, Petit Bouschet, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Best regions and wineries in Peru
For the ultimate wine experience, the Ica Valley is the place to go. Its desert location and harsh climate makes the wine growing capital of Peru. A must-visit is Tacama Hacienda, which just happens to be the oldest vineyard in South America.
Ica is located a short drive away from Lima, as well as a close distance from the famous Nazca lines. You can drive here, take a shuttle bus, or join a guided tour.
Peruvian wines to try
A must-try (and a personal favorite) is the Intipalka Malbec as well as Tabernero Borgona and Tacama Gran Tinto.
Dani from No Hurry To Get Home is a big fan of sweet wines and found herself in paradise while tasting all the wine Peru has to offer (and getting slightly drunk in the process).
Wine from Indonesia
Overview of Indonesian Wine
Indonesia has a small but growing number of wineries that produce local and unique blends. Hatten Wines is the most well-known winery in Indonesia and it’s located in Ubud, Bali. Originally it only produced rice wine but in the early 1990s, the owners decided to tackle the art of growing grapes and making them into traditional wines.
The most common grape varieties are Belgia Muscat and Alphonse Lavallee, which are unique varieties adapted to the hot climate of Indonesia. While the production there is still quite local, the wineries are constantly expanding and opening new locations.
Best regions and wineries in Indonesia
Ubud is definitely Indonesia’s most well-known wine region. In the past years, a growing number of tourists have gone to the local wineries for tastings and guided tours about the winemaking process in such a hot climate. This is not like anything you’ve experienced before.
If you are going to Bali for the wine, you should definitely stay in Ubud or close by. There are many great options for small hotels in this area. You’ll get to experience the local nature and the beauty of Bali.
Indonesian wines to try
Definitely make sure to try the Hatten Wine Aga White, which is one of the most expensive wines Indonesia has to offer. While it might not be like anything you’ve tried before, it’s a unique blend and it shouldn’t be missed. There is also the Reserve Red from the Sababay Winery. This is an unusual blend that will surprise you over and over again.
Victoria from Guide your Travel is a wine enthusiast who has visited wineries around the world. She was surprised by how high-quality Indonesian wines can be and would come back to Bali any day for another wine tour.
Wine from Israel
Disclaimer: The Golan Heights were captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. The territory has been administered as part of Israel since 1981, despite the condemnation of the annexation by the United Nations Security Council. However, as Israel currently exercises control over the area, it’s being included in this guide as part of it.
Overview of Israeli wine
Israel is probably one of the most ancient spots on the globe where wine has been produced. The word ‘wine’ appears 140 times in the Hebrew Bible, first mentioned when Noah planted a vineyard after the great flood. Modern Israel continues with this heritage with a flourishing wine industry. Several larger established wineries produce millions of bottles a year, the most famous is the Golan Heights winery.
However, the local wine scene is characterized by over 100 small boutique wineries scattered across the countryside. Another unique aspect of Israeli wine is the wide variety of climates, from the Golan Heights’ basalt soil in the north, to the harsh and dry Negev desert in the south.
Best regions and wineries in Israel
The Golan Height in the country’s northern edge is a beautiful rural mountain ridge with plenty of natural and historical sites. Don’t miss a visit to the ‘younger’ Wineries Asaf and Chateau Golan, but also the established Golan Heights Winery.
The richest wine area in Israel is the foothills of the Judean mountains, west of Jerusalem. Dozens of wineries of all sizes are scattered around. It’s also the most geographically convenient area for wine tourism, located in the center, half an hour drive from both Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Don’t miss a visit to the Teperberg Winery. It’s a historic establishment founded in 1870 in the old Jewish quarter in Jerusalem during the Ottoman rule. The tradition was passed from one generation to the next and they produced some of the country’s most distinguished bottles.
Another unique area to check out wineries is the Negev desert. One does not expect that this dry area could be suitable to plant vineyards, however, several pioneers proved otherwise. The central ridge, at an altitude of 800-1000 m, provides excellent conditions for groves. A great way to experience the desert atmosphere is to visit the tiny settlement of Kadesh Barnea and taste some local wine Ramat Hanegev wineries.
Israeli wines to try
I recommend trying at least one wine from each distinctive region. Teperberg Providence’s mix of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Petit Verdot, and 6% Syrah is the distinguished winery’s flagship product. Yatir Forest is considered the best wine from the Negev Desert. A mix of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot, and 20% Malbec yields a fruity taste with deep purple hues. From the Golan Height, try their famous Sauvignon Blanc from the Jordan series.
Erez is living in Israel and had been touring the country for decades. He is passionate about sharing his love for the land with foreign tourists via his Hiking Website.
Have you heard of any of these countries for wine tourism? Which of these booming wine destinations made it to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!
WHAT TO READ NEXT?
- The best wine destinations around the world
- Wine tourism in Europe: the most underrated wine destinations
- The Ultimate Travel Experiences Bucket List
- Travel resources: the best travel tips and tricks
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