Chances are that Tuscany, Napa, and Bordeaux have already made it onto your wine-tasting bucket list, but what you may not know is that the world has countless wine regions that are full of grapes just waiting to be picked and turned into Chardonnay and Cabernet. So, why should you consider traveling far and wide for your wine? “Each wine region and varietal offer something different, both in flavor and character, which is what makes them unique to the region they come from,” says Carin Skowronsky, food and wine blogger at Pairs Well With. “For instance, you can taste the difference between high altitude wines in Chile and hillside wines in Tuscany. Over time, people often come to prefer wine from a particular region that fits their palate.” Here, five places you should consider adding to your list of wine destinations. Just don’t blame me if you end up loving the wine so much that you miss your flight home.
Photo: The Vines
The Uco Valley, Argentina
If you’re looking for great wine with an even better backdrop, head to Argentina’s Uco Valley. Located an hour and a half from Mendoza, which is where you’ll fly into, the areas has hundreds of vineyards that are set at the base of the Andes mountain range. This means all your pictures will look more like scenic postcards than smartphone shots.
The area is home to some of the best Malbec in the world, but you’ll also find whites and rosés and a delicious regional red called Cabernet Franc. Check out Trout & Wine Tours, who will give you a full-day three-vineyard tour that’s complete with a six-course lunch with wine pairings for $180. Before you leave, be sure to make a reservation at the The Vines for another delicious wine-fueled lunch and a breathtaking view.
The Willamette Valley, Oregon
Sure, Napa and Sonoma get all the credit when it comes to West Coast wine destinations, but head north to Wilmette Valley for something totally different. The region is about an hour and a half from Portland and home to over 300 wineries – many of which offer up small-batch wines. Since the vineyards aren’t as big as others, be sure to call ahead for any bookings and note that tastings are more likely than full-on tours. Check out Sarver Winery, Winter’s Hill, and Adelsheim for some sensational sipping and views.
Photo: Terrawarra Estate
The Yarra Valley, Australia
You’ve probably downed a bottle of Yellowtail at least once in your life, but what you may not realize is that Australia is quickly becoming one of the world’s top wine-tasting destinations. The Yarra Valley is home to 80 different wineries, and it’s the perfect place to post up with a picnic and a bottle of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or sparkling wine (three of the regions specialties). Tours pickup from Melbourne, and you can taste wines from small, boutique vineyards, as well as from larger companies. Be sure to hit Yering Station, one of the valley’s oldest wineries, as well as Oakridge Wines and Tarrawarra Estate, which has its own art gallery, for a truly unique experience.
Photo: Quinta do Crasto
The Douro Valley, Portugal
If you like port wine – or any red wine, really – Portugal is the place for you. The Douro Valley stretches north from the city of Porto (a port town three hours from Lisbon), and is so incredible that it was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001. Lay your head at the stunning Six Senses Resort, which has its own on-site vineyard, and head to Quinta do Crasto for one of the best views in the region. There are also cruises that take you down the Portuguese coast, tasting as you go, and a train that runs through the entire valley. The best part: Portuguese wine is actually pretty affordable, so even if you become obsessed with everything you taste (which, FYI, you will), your newfound favorites won’t totally break the bank.
Photo: Vina el Principal
The Maipo Valley, Chile
Consider the Maipo Valley and the Uco as mirror images: This region will give you the exact opposite view of the Andes as you had in Argentina. That’s not to say Chilean and Argentine wine are anything alike, though: Instead of Malbec, the Maipo Valley (which has been called “the Bordeaux” of South America) is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of your best bets for a great day of sights and sipping? Viña El Principal, Viña Santa Rita, and Viña Concha y Toro.