Italy, Spain, France, and Napa Valley are probably some of the first places you think of when you think about great wine. These underrated wine destinations have long been associated with the high quality, award-winning wines they produce.
There are, however, many other incredible, yet extremely underrated wine regions in the world. The main reason these wine destinations have remained relatively unknown is because they don’t have powerful marketing campaigns promoting them.
These regions produce some of the most amazing wines, but you’ve probably never even heard of half of them. The vineyards and wineries in these locations are, for the most part, still managed by families of dedicated and passionate winemakers.
If you are a true wine lover, you have probably already been to a least a few of the most famous wine destinations. But when it comes to wine, the more the better, right?
Here are eleven of the most underrated wine destinations you should consider for your next wine tour.
11 Most Underrated Wine Regions in the World
It’s time you add a few more places to your wine tour to-do list. In the recent years, these places have surprised even the most seasoned wine connoisseurs with their exceptional vintages.
Croatia has several wine producing regions. The country exports a considerable amount of white wines. Istria is among Croatia’s most famous wine making regions. It was featured on Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s list of the, “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations,” in 2015. Although it covers a smaller geographical region, it offers many wine tours and tastings.
The other major wine producing regions in Croatia include Slavonia, which is located in the northeastern part of the country, Plešivica in the west, and Central and South Dalmatia.
Istria is considered the, “Tuscany of Croatia,” and it is most famous for its white wines. On the other hand, Central and South Dalmatia are known for their Croatian reds.
Very few people know it, but Turkey is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world. Today it produces over 100 different varieties of grapes that are grown exclusively in Turkey.
Although Turkish wine has a long history behind it, and the source materials are also widely prevalent in the region, the country’s first winery wasn’t established until 1926.
Thrace is Turkey’s main wine producing region, and it produces 40% of Turkey’s wine. The Aegean Coast comes next in terms of their volume of production, and accounts for 20% of the country’s total wine production. Some of its most popular varieties include Öküzgözü, which is a light red wine comparable to Pinot Noir.
Argentina has an amazing wine scene. But it is still struggling to gain recognition from the top players in the wine industry. Mendoza is the largest wine region in the country, and it accounts for almost two-thirds of Argentina’s total wine production.
Malbec is the most widely produced wine variety of the region. Other than Malbecs, the region also produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bonarda.
The other wine producing regions in Argentina are Salta and Catamarca to the north, and Rio Negro and Neuquen in Patagonia to the south.
#4. South Africa
South Africa is known for many reasons, but rarely for its wine production. The country has been producing fine wines for many years. The wine producing regions of South Africa are mostly located in the Western Cape.
At present, South Africa has around 957,775 hectares of land used for wine production in an area that stretches over 800 kms. Chenin Blanc, a local white wine variety known as “Steen” to South Africans, and Pinotage deserve a tasting when visiting South Africa.
Slovakia is still waiting to be recognized as a top wine destination. That doesn’t stop wine lovers from flocking there, however, to taste the country’s very own wine varieties. The region produces many naturally sweet wines.
The wines produced in the relatively small (2,241 acres) Tokaj wine region in Slovakia have earned the praises of many great people throughout history, including emperors and popes.
Georgia, the post-Soviet country located at the point of intersection between Europe and Asia, still remains an undiscovered jewel. With its quaint small towns situated at the Caucasian foothills, the winemaking in Georgia has been a family affair for thousands of years.
In the major wine producing region of the country, Kakheti, wine production is slowly becoming more commercialized. Interestingly, the Georgian grapes are fermented in jars of clay rather than in steel containers or wooden barrels. This gives its wines a distinct sweet flavor, which is quite different from Western wines.
Wine production in Greece goes back 4000 years. It is indeed one of the world’s oldest wine producing regions. This is where you will find the marvellous white wine variety, Moschofilero. Which is not yet widely known, but has the potential to become famous worldwide someday.
As the wineries are introducing modern winemaking technologies, the wine regions of Greece have gone through major improvements. And an increasing number of young winemakers in the region are heading to top wine schools around the world for training.
#8. Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, there are two major wine producing regions, Moravia and Bohemia. The country’s vineyards were devastated by the Thirty Years’ War in the 1600s.
They have, however, been replanted. And now, the total wine producing zones in these two wine regions includes 19,000 hectares, most of which are in Moravia. Moravian white wines are popular all over the world, and have also won several international awards.
#9. Oregon, USA
Sonoma and Napa Valley in California have stolen all of the thunder when it comes to wine regions in the United States. Oregon is gradually pulling itself up to the frontlines, however, and has been producing many high quality wines.
The state boasts several wine producing regions, and 700 wineries. Approximately a thousand vineyards in the state produce more than 72 varieties of grapes.
The Douro Valley is Portugal’s main wine producing region. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Running along the Douro river, this wine region is gradually becoming more popular with wine enthusiasts. New restaurants are opening up, and the ancient quintas are being transformed into wine resorts and wineries.
Another notable wine region in Portugal is the Dao region, which is situated in the north. It has already earned a reputation for producing the country’s most outstanding red wines. The Alentejo wine region in the south is known for its fresh, and acidic wines.
#11. New Zealand
The Marlborough region is the most significant grape growing region of New Zealand. It accounts for nearly 75% of the total wine produced in the country. However, lately it has been lagging behind the country’s other wine producing regions because of the lack of amenities for tourists.
But you can still enjoy the Marlborough wine experience by exploring the wineries of the region, and the surrounding areas. Sauvignon Blanc is the star wine of the region, infused with pleasant fruity flavors, and a deep scent.
While some of these regions are starting to get noticed by more adventurous wine lovers, most remain underrated and practically unknown by the rest of the world. Either way, these wine destinations offer many wine tours, tastings, and vineyards to explore.