Where to Travel for Wine this Year

kozlovic

This year, make it your resolution to let those wines you’re sipping on your couch be a starting point, not an end point. Use your taste for wine to propel you overseas, on a road trip, or down the street to a tasting room. Experiencing wine while chatting with the winemaker or looking out over the vines that created it – that’s how you can get to know and love it. Despite climate changes (or, maybe because of them), high-quality wine is everywhere these days. So when you’re planning your big trip for the year – you know, the one you’ve been saving all your personal days for – consider a wine destination. Here are a few surprising wine regions that are prime for a visit in 2017.

 

Istria, Croatia

If Italy is a boot, then Istria is the cuffed sock. Just across the Adriatic Sea from Venice, the Italian influence in Istria is hard to miss. Because of political unrest in the region and neighboring countries at the turn of the century, Croatia remained off the map as a wine destination. Today, however, younger winemakers are charging the scene and creating incredible, award-winning wines, the perfect pairing with idyllic hillside villages, warm and rocky coasts and fresh-from-the-sea cuisine.

Wineries to Visit

Trapan, a Wine Station that’s fun and playful but serious about wine
Kozlovic, bright and modern with a killer view that stretches for miles

 

Douro Valley, Portugal

We’ve already gushed on the quiet, ancient charm of Douro, and there’s a reason we’re bringing it up again. It’s going to be a top wine destination this year with its affordable Airbnbs and world-renowned ports putting a French wine trip to shame. Here you’ll find hillsides striped with vines and old rock walls, tannic reds, and fresh family-run restaurants. And if you’re “not a port person,” the careful winemaking in this ancient valley will change your mind.

Wineries to Visit

Quinta da Pacheca, an ode to women port-makers everywhere, right next to one of the world’s biggest producers
Quinta do Bomfim, where you can sip ports of all ages overlooking the rushing Douro River

 

Mendocino, California

One of California’s lesser-known wine regions (except to fans of Angela Lansbury), Mendocino is a statewide leader in sustainability and organic farming. Learning about these practices, which are only now making a comeback in California, is worth a visit on its own. This wine region is “Haute Hippie Heaven,” with world-renowned wines, neck-craning redwoods, blinding ocean seascapes, and far more character than its southerly neighbors Napa and Sonoma.

Wineries to Visit

Jeriko Estate, a biodynamic vineyard complete with chickens and goats
Handley Cellars, perfect for picnicking with a view of the winery’s organic vineyards

 

Okanagan Valley, Canada

Just four hours east of Vancouver, you can bask in the dry sunlight of British Columbia’s famed wine country. Defined by its unique and unexpected climate and chain of lakes, including the prominent Okanagan Lake, the attitude here is even more distinct than Mendocino, 1,000 miles to the south. Its unique natural winemaking and experimental aging techniques are producing wines that are growing in popularity around the world, but the region is growing faster than anywhere else in the country. So go now before it gets too crowded.

Wineries to Visit

Nk’Mip, the first Aboriginal-owned winery in the world
Elephant Island Orchard, a friendly and family-run winery on the Naramata Beach

 

Melnik, Bulgaria

In comparison to Okanagan’s burgeoning metro areas, Melnik is the smallest village in all of Bulgaria – with fewer than 400 residents. And yet, it’s the epicenter of Struma Valley, a wine region that’s regaining popularity after decades of post-soviet struggles. Here, winemakers are producing some of the most bold reds in Eastern Europe, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A trip to Melnik could include a hike to old stone ruins, monasteries and wine caves that will have your Instagram friends drooling and very inexpensive wines to bring home.

Wineries to Visit

Damianitza, one of the leading wineries in Bulgaria
Orbelus, a barrel-shaped winery that uses only organic grapes

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