Certain parts of the world are like sacred ground for oenophiles, namely France and Northern California. But a number of unexpected locales are also getting into the wine business and turning out vintages that are receiving a lot of attention.
Here are six areas that have transformed into reputable wine regions over the years:
South East England conjures up visions of historical towns and breathtaking scenery. What you may not know is that South East England also has vineyards that attract visitors and wine lovers from around the country. Plan your trip in May, when English Wine Week occurs and the vineyards offer specials and events. A stop at the Denbies Wine Estate is a must. As the largest vineyard in England, Denbies includes award-winning wines, art exhibitions, restaurants and tours.
Arizona may be better known for its resorts and retreats, but the area also has enough vineyards for wine lovers to take a tour. Stay in one of Tucson's resorts (we suggest the Westward Look) and then check out the vineyards that lie between Sonoita and Patagonia, including Rancho Rossa Vineyards and Callaghan Vineyards.
The Ukraine may be known for its troubled political past, but it's winemaking regions also go back further than you may think. Although many areas produce wine, the largest is Crimea, which made wines for the country's royalty; but many vineyards were destroyed under the Communist reign. Several cruises, like SeaDream Yacht Club, offer day tours along the beautiful Black Sea and features a trip to the Massandra Winery, the oldest in Ukraine and a former palace of the Tsars.
Thailand produces beer that is served at Thai restaurants the world over. But what you may not know is that in addition to Singha, you can also pair Thailand-produced wines with your Pad Thai noodles. In fact, wine tours are one of the newest parts of the Thai hospitality industry and you can find luxe private tours that take you to the wineries surrounding major cities like Bangkok. Decide on the region you want to learn more about, like exploring the fruity wines of Northern Thailand while perched on the back of an elephant. Spend a day touring multiple wineries or stay overnight, and discover the local cuisine.
Canada has grown into a large wine industry over the years. From the country famous Icewines, connoisseurs can also enjoy fruit wines, meads and ciders, organic wines and fortified wines. If you're in British Columbia, stay at Damali Lavender Farm Winery and B&B. Not only will you enjoy the lavender fields and vineyards on the premises, you will also be close enough to tour the nearby Cowichan Wine Country of Vancouver Island.
Israel's wine industry started off as something of a joke, but over the years, the wines produced in the ancient land have become prize-winning and received accolades from wine experts in such publications as Wine Spectator. Israeli wines are not just the sickly sweet. Thanks to better technologies and winemaking practices adopted from across the globe, wines are now suitable for drinking at any meal, not just Friday nights.
In Golan Heights and the Negev, there are plenty of wineries and boutique vineyards to choose from and favorite varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Israeli wines can be found in restaurants internationally, but to visit the region yourself, try booking a wine tour with Wines Across Israel or a similar tour company, as the experts can help you also find a boutique hotel outside of the major cities. Wine tours also afford the ability for personal tastings and talks with the winemakers.