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7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions to Know Now

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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 too.

Contact our team to discuss planning a future wine-focused trip to one of these places and beyond. Plus: Don’t miss our food-and-wine-focused Insider Journey group trips!

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).

Related: Foodie Travel Guide 2022: The 15 Best Cities for Everyone Who Loves Food

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. Curious to sample it for yourself? Join the waitlist for our 2023 Insider Journey to Slovenia.

Related: Why Go Now – Slovenia

Finger Lakes, New York

For a 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 Associate Director of Membership 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. After hours spent soaking in the verdant majesty of the Empire State and sipping your way through fresh, tart flights, a stylish boutique property like The Lake House on Canandaigua (which opened defiantly in the summer of 2020) will be ready to welcome you home.

Related: Where to Go This Fall

McLaren Vale, Australia

At long last, Australia’s borders are reopened—and the destination is ready to welcome back daredevils and connoisseurs alike. The continent’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.”

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. The vineyard is known for its sustainable architecture and delicious white wines (primarily of the Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscat varieties). 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. And for the next best thing—head to Albi in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard, which was recently awarded a Michelin star and offers one of the finest (and most robustly annotated) Lebanese, Georgian and Levantine wine lists this side of the Atlantic.

Related: Wine-Tasting Notes from the Indagare Global Classroom

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.”

Related: The Best Château Hotels in France

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. For your home base, we recommend Meneghetti Wine Hotel, a historic wine estate that is now a Relais & Châteaux haven offering an intimate experience of the Istrian countryside and pampering amenities like a wonderful spa and a private beach club.

Related: 15 Best New Hotels in Europe

Contact our team to discuss planning a future wine-focused trip to one of these up-and-coming wine regions and beyond. Plus: Don’t miss our food-and-wine-focused Insider Journey group trips!

– Elizabeth Harvey on August 17, 2022

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