Wine tourism is having a moment. The boom is fueled by an increasing interest in, and appreciation for, wine and winemaking, an explosion of tour companies catering to this type of travel, and the notion that travel, in general, has become easier and more affordable. Once reserved for predictable destinations such as Bordeaux, France and Napa, California, the reach of wine tourism has spread significantly.
There are a myriad of regions producing fantastic wines that have remained below the international viniculture radar for, well, centuries. By no means an exhaustive list, here are three recommended destinations that are worthy of any wine enthusiast’s travel plans for 2019:
This wine region in eastern Switzerland shares borders with Austria and Liechtenstein. Known primarily for its upscale ski resorts — think St. Moritz and Davos — the region also produces some of Switzerland’s finest wines. The alpine climate and slatey soil can prove finicky for grape-growing. Locals learned back in the mid-1600s, however, that the Pinot Noir vines could thrive here, and have never looked back. Today, 90% of the wine produced here is Pinot Noir.
The Azores, Portugal
This nine islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean has been a source of winemaking since the 15th Century. However, it is a newcomer to wine tourism. The impressive volcanic landscapes and immense natural beauty provide an outstanding backdrop to sample the region’s equally impressive vintages. Visitors can enjoy a variety of red and white wines, including Arinto dos Acores, Verdelho and Terrantez do Pico.
Maule Valley, Chile
Chile, as a nation, is no newcomer to wine tourism, with numerous wine regions nestled in the fertile lands between mountain and sea. However, Maule Valley, in the Central Valley, is an often overlooked destination, quietly heralding the resurrection of the Pais grape. Pais, a red wine grape grown in Chile for centuries lost favor in the 20th Century to better-known varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon. New methods of working with the grape, such as dry farming, is resulting in the production of incredibly fresh, floral, light-bodied reds wines.
Without a doubt, it’s an exciting time to be a wine tourist, and 2019 promises to spread the enthusiasm to new and uncharted winemaking regions. Cheers!