Six Underrated Wine Destinations to Know About Before Your Friends

Two things help gain access to the heart of a country: food and wine. Dipping noses into local grown grapes, chatting with sun-weathered farmers and sampling perfectly paired charcuterie boards alongside the season's harvest gives an insightful overview of what makes a nation tick. Sure, Bordeaux holds the corkscrew to the world's finest crus, the Cape Wineland's fertile soil produces the sharpest Sauvignon Blanc and Tuscan vintners still crush the grapes between their toes. But those wishing to follow a path less trodden should raise a glass to these lesser-known wine destinations.


With their whitewashed villages, undulating cliffs and jellyfish-blue seas, we can't see our Greek Island love affair fading any time soon. Santorini may be the poster child for the Greek islands but the pretty, rock-hewn towns you see plastered across social media are crumbling under the pressure of tourism. But boomerangs of Sauv-filled glasses are set to be their saviour as locals turn their attention back to agriculture, preventing valuable fields from being torn up to construct yet more hotels. Crops are planted in volcanic soil meaning they are pretty immune to pests and ensures they never suffer a bad harvest. The mineral-rich soil also gives grapes a slightly sweeter taste; try the red Mantilaria grape at Santo Wines. Pick up a bottle alongside plump tomatoes, fava beans and extra virgin oil sold in the artisan shop to enjoy at Perissa, the neighbouring black-sand beach.


Proudly displaying their passion for vino on everything from tea towels to fridge magnets, the qeyri clay pots that are used to ferment wine underground are the national symbol of Georgia. Natural wines are a big thing here and the production is largely a family affair. Combine a city break to on-trend Tbilisi with a trip to the neighbouring wine region of Kakheti. Head to the quaint village of Signagi nestled at the foothill of the Caucasus Mountains, fondly known as "the city of love" due to the 24 hour a day wedding service that is available. Don't be fooled though, the rolling verdant green hills are more Normandy than Nevada. For a souvenir to suit even the snobbiest of noses, a trip to 8000 Vintages in Tbilisi is in order. Blind tastings are organised for a panel of experts to determine which wines are going to be stocked. Put your taste buds to the test with your own miniature tasting exploration.



Why flock to Burgundy or Bordeaux when you can have an island fling with the cuvèes of Corsica? Vineyards are scattered throughout its circumference, but the majority are within easy reach from bustling Porto Vecchio. Be sure to try red grapes Sciaccarellu and the salty whites from Vermentino. Top of the itinerary should be Domaine de Torraccia, which is sandwiched between the Med and the mountains and makes for an easy day trip from Porto Vecchio. The vineyard was planted just 45 years ago by one of 3. Corsica's most famous modern farmers and is renowned for creating aged Oriou wines. Fill a bottle direct from the vat from as little as €5 a litre to slurp merrily at the seaside.


Heavily scented souks, slow-cooked lamb tagine and the majestic Atlas mountains are some of the things eponymous with 4. Morocco. While you'll were more once more likely to sing about their mint tea than their wines, that is fast changing. Leaders of Moroccan wine producers Celliers de Meknès are at the forefront of this new viticulture. Tucked away at the bottom of the Atlas mountains, 2400 hectares of clay vineyards (ploughed by camels) produce a promising selection of reds, including a particularly good Syrah. With views across the mountain-backed vineyards, expertly stocked wine cellar and rooms furnished with antique Berber rugs, Château Roslane is ideally positioned to stumble back to following a thorough tasting. Clear cloudy heads the next morning in their exquisite Hamman spa.


Straddling two culinary cultures (The Med and Central Europe) ensures Croatia brings more to the table than just beautiful beaches. A slight Italian influence has offered Istria the moniker "the new Tuscany" in recent years, with their indigenous Malvazija Istarska grape taking centre stage. The fruit white adopts a rich, butternut-squash colour that comes from the extra-long maceration of the grapes, where the skin soaks for anything from a week to a year. If you're heading to Istria's pebbled coastline to gorge on their bountiful seafood offering then opt for bottle(s) of the white, apple-blossom Degrasso Malvazija Bomarchse. Visit family-run winery Cossetto which dates back three generations, then drink your riches at Pissa Granda, an intimate wine bar in the bustling port of Rovinj centre. Oenophiles will want to travel to the northern town Momjan to take part in their Feast of Saint Martin harvest celebrations. Before the ceremonial uncorking, the wine is then baptised and poured freely for several hours. Živjeli!

Southern California

United States

Napa Valley needn't hog the Californian limelight any longer; head south and you'll reach the Temecula, where 40 wineries (with more joining them) have been tickling the noses of wine enthusiasts for a few years now. These areas bid goodbye to the stuffiness of siblings Napa and Sonoma and have rolled up their Levi's for Cali's creatives. Just 90 minutes south of Los Angeles, bundle up your crew (remember to call shotgun for the front seat) and head off for a tipsy weekend. Here, you'll find homegrown vintages (unique to this part of California) paired with farm-to-table restaurants, while backyard airstreams reveal bubbling microbreweries. Hop aboard a vintage tractor (budge up for the resident farm dog/mascot) and trundle across the sun-soaked hills before raising a glass to the country band throwing down at sunset on stacks of hay.

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