Taste new terroirs with wine from unexpected regions


Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, Tuscany in Italy, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California, even New Zealand and South Africa – there are places that are simply synonymous with wine.

However, lesser-known regions around the world also have the perfect blend of climate and soil for grape cultivation, many of which are creating quality wines that are well worth seeking out a bottle of to try.

Pinot Noir vines in England. Image credit: Getty Images

England, United Kingdom

The southeastern coast of England is drier and warmer than the chilly and rainy rest of the island, giving it a climate similar to the famed Champagne, France. It isn’t surprising, then, that 72 percent of wine production there is of the sparkling variety. Vineyards in Hampshire and Sussex grown the classic trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes that are turned into award-winning wines with floral and mineral notes.

The ancient Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Image credit: Getty Images

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

One of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world lies in the tiny country of Lebanon, where the practice is said to date back to 7000 B.C.E. The valley’s dry summers and high-altitude, Mediterranean climate allow for deep, intense flavors in red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carnigan and Syrah. Wine in Lebanon has a heavy French influence, such as oak aging, although most work in the vineyards is still done by hand. And smaller producers are growing indigenous grapes, such as the white Obaideh and Merwah, more and more and turning back to simpler, natural winemaking techniques.

Grapevines can even grow in Baja California, Mexico. Image credit: Getty Images

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Just an hour south of Tijuana on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico’s west coast, ocean and gulf breezes mix with mountain air to form a Mediterranean microclimate in the desert perfect for vineyards. The fast-growing region now has over 150 wineries, many of which are focusing on their terroir and remaining organic and natural. The dry, hot weather works well for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc, among many others.

Vines protected by the Helan Mountains in China. Image credit: Getty Images

Ningxia, China

In the valley between the Yellow River and Helan Mountains in north-central China, a very new wine region has emerged. Now recognized as China’s first appellation, the Ningxia area saw its first vineyards sprout in the 1980s. Growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Gernischt, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling, the high altitude combined with hot daytime sun and cool nights slows the ripening of the grapes, giving them a balanced acidity. Vines also have to be buried in soil over the winter due to freezing temperatures and occasionally don’t make it, resulting in mostly newer vines.

Mountain lakes dot Canadian wine country. Image credit: Getty Images

Okanagan Valley, Canada

This southwestern region near Vancouver is nestled between sparkling mountain lakes and forests, with a short growing season and harsh winters. However, the very hot daytime temperatures and cool nights during summertime maintain the grapes’ acidity, and the long daylight hours allow red grapes to still fully ripen. Okanagan Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are known for fruity notes and fresh, crisp acidity.

Chardonnay growing on the coast of Tasmania. Image credit: Getty Images

Tasmania, Australia

Another relatively new wine-growing region lies on the rugged island of Tasmania, off the southeast coast of Australia. It has a cool climate, not due to altitude like many other regions, but to its location so far south on the globe. The island’s eastern half is protected from the usual wind and rain, making it perfect for cool-climate varietals such as Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir – often made into sparkling wine. The long growing season and difficult terrain mean vineyards are low in yield, but high in quality.

To learn about another underrated wine locale, the Dalmatian region of Croatia, read “Distinctly Dalmatian” in the latest issue of Luxury Portfolio magazine.