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7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions to Visit in 2020

Destinations like Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Tuscany have long been sought after by travelers interested in wine, but for oenophiles looking to go off the beaten path in search of their next great pour, these lesser-known destinations offer innovative vineyards—as well as history, photogenic landscapes and unique local cuisine—that are worth exploring in 2020. 

Contact Indagare to book a wine-focused trip to one of these destinations and beyond.

Georgia

Tourism to Georgia has been on the rise since 2017, and the international community is starting to take notice of this former Soviet country’s viticulture—which, in fact, is anything but new. Wine production in Georgia was recently proven to date back to prehistoric times (at least 3,000 years before the Greeks). Today, the country offers several interesting wine-producing regions that travelers can taste their way through, but Kakheti is one of the most popular. Wines here lean towards the acidic, with the most typical white variety being Rkatsiteli, and the most common red, Saperavi. Don’t forget to order a few plates of the country’s famously indulgent comfort foods, like cheesy bread (khachapuri) and meat-stuffed dumplings (khinkali).

Slovenia

To the west across the Black Sea, another of the world’s oldest but less lauded wine-growing regions is beginning to get the attention it deserves. Slovenia‘s diverse microclimates of alpine forests, mineral-rich lakes and Adriatic coastlines are ideal for producing wine, especially white varieties, and the land is well-protected by conservation programs (Slovenia is one of the most sustainable countries in the world). There are several lovely regions to explore, but the picturesque hills of Brda (and their Rebula grapes) are perhaps the most well-known; the production of orange wines here has also earned international acclaim. Many of these vineyards are within a few hours’ drive of Ljubljana, where travelers can spend time touring medieval castles and churches and shopping for artisanal crafts.

Related: Why Go Now – Slovenia

Finger Lakes, New York

For a quick tasting trip a bit closer to home, look no further than upstate New York’s Finger Lakes. Just a five-hour drive from New York City or a six-hour drive from Boston, the Finger Lakes offer outdoor activities like hiking and skiing, cozy lodge hotels and, yes—great wines. Says Indagare’s Senior Membership Manager Alex Clifford, a former sommelier for the Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant Marea: “Because of the cool climate, the Finger Lakes excel at German varietals like Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Dr. Konstantin Frank figured out how to grow good wine here in the 1960s—he was the real pioneer in the region.” Today, Frank’s winery is still in operation, welcoming guests to savor a variety of tasting and touring experiences, with serene views over Keuka Lake.

McLaren Vale, Australia

Australia’s vast and varied topography has inspired the cultivation of many wine-growing areas across the country, with the Barossa Valley being the most internationally acclaimed; however, just a two-hour drive south from here (or a 40-minute drive from Adelaide), the less trafficked, coastal region of McLaren Vale has recently stepped into the spotlight. Shiraz is still the grape of choice here, but the area has set itself apart as a leader in the sustainable wine-growing movement—plus, it offers dynamic estates that also appeal to art- and design-lovers. Don’t miss the whimsical d’Arenberg winery, which was established in 1912 and today houses modern and contemporary art installations, including an “Alternate Realities Museum” and a six-million-dollar exhibition of the work of Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí (on until May 2020).

Lebanon

In addition to cutting-edge designers, some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, delicious cuisine and a complex, globally-minded culture, Lebanon’s many offerings for the curious traveler include a rich viticulture that is on the rise thanks to award-winning vineyards like IXSIR—which, at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, is one of the highest vineyards in the world. Known for its sustainable architecture and delicious white wines (primarily of the Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscat varieties), IXSIR is a featured visit on Indagare’s upcoming Insider Journey to Lebanon with Architectural Digest (May 1 – 6, 2020), which is back by popular demand after selling out twice in 2019. For an extended tasting experience, the historic Château Musar lies just a 45-minute drive south along the sea and is another interesting addition outside of the Beqaa Valley

Related: Book Now – Discover Lebanon with Architectural Digest and Indagare

Jura, France

Often overlooked by travelers en route to the glamorous ski towns of Verbier, Chamonix and Zermatt, Jura is an alpine region at the base of the mountain range that separates France from Switzerland. (It was also the birthplace of designer Louis Vuitton, who famously crossed the region on foot to reach Paris, where he would later found his fashion brand.) In recent years, Jura has made a serious splash in French wine circles—a feat no lesser than Vuitton’s—thanks to innovative producers who are using the untouched land to make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties that rival those of the Old Guard. Says Indagare’s Alex Clifford: “I’d recommend trying the wines from Domaine du Pélican, which was established in 2012 by Guillaume d’Angerville, a winemaker from the Domain d’Angerville in Burgundy. It brings Burgundian precision to Jura.”

Istria, Croatia

For Mediterranean devotees looking to expand their wine horizons, Croatia’s northwestern region of Istria should be next on the must-visit list. In addition to producing a wide variety of wines (including Malvasia, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Teran, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Syrah), the region is home to a truly impressive food scene (particularly celebrated for its truffles), with noted restaurants ranging from the Slow Food establishment Toklarija, which is housed in a medieval olive mill, to Monte, the first restaurant in Croatia to receive a Michelin star. Often compared to Tuscany for its verdant, rolling hills and medieval towns, Istria also has the added benefit of direct access to the Adriatic, with seaside spots like Rovinj drawing a jet-set crowd thanks to art gallery-lined streets, a growing number of luxury hotels, seasonal events, chic boutiques and, of course, plenty of wine bars.

Related: Foodie Travel Guide 2019: The 10 Best Cities for Everyone Who Loves Food

Contact Indagare to book a wine-focused trip to one of these destinations and beyond.

– Elizabeth Harvey on November 19, 2019

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