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5 Lesser Known Wine Regions Around The World

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Food and travel usually go hand-in-hand, and most gypsetters journey off to other countries to excite their palate. It often comes as surprise when we find aspects of a country we’ve never known about before, such as the wine country in Thailand, example.

As we mentioned in a previous post, when traveling around the world, why stick to just beer when you can drink wine? There is so much to explore, especially when it comes to discovering new wine. If you have plans to visit a vineyard, remember that there is so much more out there than just the usual Bordeaux region in France, Napa Valley in California, New Zealand or Chile that sport the best wines and wine tours in the world. Check out our top picks on some not-so-famous but equally good vineyards will make you think of going on a global vineyard pilgrimage.

Background photo from laurenkallenbach.com

Background photo from laurenkallenbach.com

1. SWITZERLAND

Why? The Valais is one of the 26 cantons (Swiss states) Switzerland and is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Known for its terraced grapevines and old rustic landscape, the location is the perfect setting for making wines.

Try: Fendant du Valais, made from the Valais Chasselas Grape. According to the Switzerland Wines website, the name originally came from the French word fendre, or “to open,” “an image recalling the plum ripe grapes that ‘burst open’ with the slightest pressure from your fingers.”

Activities: If it’s your first time in the Valais, it’s best to go through a thorough wine tour of the canton’s terraced vineyards. It’s around 70km, which is done either by foot or by bicycle. Don’t worry, you can select which vineyards you want to go to if you don’t want to take the whole tour. Best to go during Spring. A tour takes around 8-9 days and may cost a little more than US$3,000.00–depending which agency you book with–but the whole experience is worth it!

Photo from wineandabout.com

Photo from wineandabout.com

2. THAILAND

Why? Southeast Asia is known for its fertile lands, and though grapes are not indigenous to the region, they grow quite well in a tropical climate! Thailand’s most famous vineyard, the Hua Hin Hill Vineyard is not as well known as we would like it to be, but it is gaining more fans from the West. The grapes may be from Europe, but it still has that Asian flavor.

Try: Monsoon Valley Chenin Blanc, Medium Sweet, is ideal for spicy dishes (one of the things we love about Thailand!). In fact, most of the wine list under the Monsoon Valley Ranges are found in the country’s 5-star hotels and blends well with both Western and Asian delicacies.

Activities: This is probably one unique wine tour you’ll ever have, if you plan to go to Hua Hin Hill. It is a must to have an elephant ride across the vineyard. They won’t trample the grapes; don’t worry! But there other things you can do, like bottle painting (best most probably with children), a jeep tour–if you don’t fancy riding an elephant–and wine tasting.

 

3. ROMANIA

Why? Romania has a history of wine-making of more than 4,000 years, when the Greeks came to their land. Thus, Romania has the one of the oldest wine cultures in Europe, if not the world. So if we have any Gypsetters with a love for history and wines (and folklore, for this is the birthplace of Dracula), this is the place to be.

Try: While French grapes have invaded much of Romania’s vineyards, indigenous wines are still available. One of them is the Monser line from the Senator Winery, which made out of Feteasca Neagra, Babeasca Neagra, Cadarca, Babeasca Gri, Zghihara, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Alba, Sarba, Tamaioasa Romaneasca and Busuioaca de Bohotin. The line comes in sweet or semisweet, as the wines are dependent on the taste of the Romanian people.

Activities: While wine tourism is not yet developed in Romania, you can still venture off the oft-taken path, away from Western European wines and see what Eastern Europe has to offer. Wine tours are usually part of gastronomy tours, starting in Bucharest and going around the Dealu Mare region. Depending on the tour package, wine tours are US$300-500 per person.

 

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Background photo from eatdrinktc.com

 

4. NORTHERN MICHIGAN, USA

Why? We didn’t know that Northern Michigan is the 4th largest grape producer in the US. We also didn’t know that Madonna’s father, according to shermanstravel.com, “even set up shop with his own Ciccone Vineyards.” Now that we do, that’s enough motivation to go.

Try: Northern Michigan has 3 wine-producing regions, according to mynorth.com: Leelanau County, Old Mission & Traverse City, and Petoskey & Harbor Springs. Traverse City was once dominated with cherry orchards, but there are some fruit wines that you should try, like cherry wine and apple wine.

Activities: You can find another unique wine tour here. While in Thailand you’re riding elephants, in Northern Michigan you can take a tour in the air. For around $300/person, you can go around the wineries on a hot air balloon. That beats the usual route, now, right? The best time to go is in April, when it’s Wine Month there (but every month is a wine month, yet April is more special).

From Google Images

From Google Images

5. IDAHO, USA

Why? The Snake River Valley is another piece of fertile land by a flowing river, and the region boasts 48 wineries today, according to delish.com.

Try: It’s hard to pick which wine one should start with, but if you want a blend of Tuscan and American heritage in one glass of wine, best to try the 2009 Sangiovese from Snake River Winery. It’s fermented for 14 months in American oak barrels and has a hint of vanilla.

Activities: You have your conventional wine tours, but do come in style! Idaho has touring limousine services that you can reserve before arriving there. Lodging is available around Snake River Valley: these quaint B&Bs add more to the heritage that you’re about to discover in this area of the Potato State. See this list of inns and B&Bs around the wineries so you can book a room now.

There are more wine regions around the world that we can talk about, but maybe you, our dear gypsetting readers, could recommend more. Which wine country would you love to visit and why?

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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.

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