Earlier, we’ve covered on some guidelines on how to visit a vineyard properly and as a result received several mails about the best countries and vineyards to visit. To solve that issue, here are 5 wine producing nations apart from France that are definitely worth a visit.
The best part about wine is the diversity it brings to the table. Thousands of grapes, different terroirs and microclimates, and endless expressions of even the same grape. I have had some of my best travel experiences at wineries, not only because of the wines but also because how much you get to learn about a country, the people and even politics. These are five wine destinations that are not on top of the usual wine travel itineraries but will surely blow you away:
With a population of just two million, getting from one end of Slovenia to the other works out to a three-hour drive. Slovenia, west of Italy, has three wine-growing regions, and I visited the Podravje region along with Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia. Driving around was an absolute pleasure—vineyards after vineyards on each side of the road! Chardonnays, dry rieslings, a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and even Traminer. But the thing that blew me away was the ice wine, known locally as Sipon. Local among the local varieties, it is common to see Pinela and Zelen. Driving around Slovenian vineyards right at the time of harvest, I came across a very interesting barter system: a lot of vineyards had tables with some food and an assortment of liquor and wine. Help the wineries pluck grapes and you can eat and drink in return!
In the ’80s and early ’90s, Bulgaria was a major player in the wine world, in addition to being the second largest wine producing country in the world at a point. Today, the industry has little international presence but still produces good wine which, combined with pristine tourist destinations, makes for an excellent wine vacation. The country is divided into five wine-making regions. Of these, the Black Sea costal region brings together beaches, spas and excellent white wines, while Bessa Valley in the Thracian Plains has a history of wine making, which goes back to the times of the Thracian tribes (500 BC) and is more likely the place to visit if you like mountains and red wines.
Georgian wines might not be popular in India but are quite well known abroad. If not the oldest, Georgia is supposed to be one of the oldest wine producing regions, making wine for 8,000 years! From self-drive trips to horseback expeditions, travel options are available for all budgets. Saperavi (translates to paint or dye) grape, is a thick-skinned variety native to Georgia and is the most widely planted grape in the country. It also makes for some of the best value-for-money red wines on the planet.
Think Ibiza, think Pacha. Well, no. Once you get over the overhyped clubs, you will realise that the island is a lovely destination for wine and food. Wine growing was introduced to the people here back in the eighth century by Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. As such, the wine industry is extremely small—Ibiza has just five wineries. But this also means quality takes precedence over quantity. The wines I tasted at the cellars of Sa Cova were rather interesting. Their Blanc de Blanc was a blend of Malvasia and Muscat, crisp, clean and aromatic, was the perfect wine to take to the beach. Sa Cova Privat 2004 was their flagship wine with Monastrell and Syrah, aged for a year in French oak. Though Ibiza doesn’t make the most powerful wines, and the production is next to negligible when compared to other wine regions, it is something you wouldn’t expect from a place known more for its loud music and beach parties.
Glaciers, desolate landscapes of Notre Grande, volcanoes, lagoons with pink flamingos, 4,000 km of coastline… I can go on and on. Chile looks so gorgeous, almost unreal. The geographic variations mean Chile also has several different terroirs and microclimates for wines. The country has been producing wines for about 500 years. When the global wine industry was crippled by vineyard diseases at the end of the 19th century, Chile was able to supply plenty of red wines to the world. Today, with six major wine producing regions, Chile produces everything from aromatic white wines to oak-aged heavy reds. Think fresh landscapes, fresh wines and arguably the best lamb on the planet. What stops you?
So what are you waiting for. Grab your phone and book a visit to one of these mystical locations.