There’s something especially beautiful about exploring wineries in lesser-known regions. We’ve rounded up four up-and-coming wine regions around the world that would merit a visit someday, not just for the noteworthy wine they produce, but for the picturesque landscapes in which they reside. Add these wineries to your list of places to visit once travel restrictions ease.
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Car-carrying ferries depart often from Auckland, taking visitors to this breathtaking vineyard-dotted island where boutique wineries and farm-to-table restaurants abound. Waiheke celebrates winemaking as a way of life.
“There’s a great sense of community amongst the vineyards and winemakers,” says Te Motu vineyard manager Rory Dunleavy, whose father and uncle planted vines on Waiheke in the 1980s. “Finishing up a long hot day at the vineyard with a swim five minutes down the road at Onetangi beach makes for a pretty great work-life balance. Even when it’s busy through summer, it’s bloody hard not to relax here.”
This corner of Northeastern Hungary offers fine dry wines, or regional icons like the sweet wine Aszù—which was lauded by royalty as early as the 16th century—and rare, limited-production Essencia wines. Tokaj wines are made principally with the grape Furmint, almost exclusively grown in this region.
Tokaj is a pleasant 2.5-hour drive or train ride from Budapest. Its cellars are often quite old, making them fascinating to tour and learn about the somewhat complicated winemaking styles. It’s worth visiting the longstanding estate Disznókö, and the newer Royal Tokaji is a benchmark producer. You can try to get a tasting at the quirky boutique enterprise of Samuel Tinon, a Frenchman making award-winning wine in a cave without electricity.
Verde Valley, Arizona
Tasting rooms nestled into red rock countryside give a remarkable impression in this unlikely spot for vineyards. One of Arizona’s three winegrowing regions, Verde Valley boasts an ideal climate for grapes thanks to a roaring river and high desert terrain, and offers visitors exciting and quirky boutique wineries with tasting rooms. The valley, home to stunning scenery and artistic Sedona, is located about two hours from Phoenix and accessible via the Verde Canyon Railroad.
A few wineries not to miss: Burning Tree, Alcantara Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Oak Creek Vineyards, and Javelina Leap Vineyard. And former Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan makes small-batch cult wines under the Caduceus label. More adventurous travelers can even kayak directly to some wineries.
Finger Lakes, New York
Home to more than 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes region of New York offers charming towns, postcard-worthy views, and an escape from the urban sprawl—it’s less than a five-hour drive from New York, Philadelphia, and other East Coast cities. The area’s special microclimate, nestled among lakes, makes for ideal grape growing: The lakes naturally regulate the air, preventing extreme temperature swings and allowing for warm, breezy days, perfect for the grapes to ripen.
If you prefer white wine, you’re in luck: Finger Lakes is known for exquisite riesling and Gewurztraminer varietals. The region’s also recently found success in pinot noir and cabernet franc. Try them for yourself at Boundary Breaks, tucked right along the edge of Seneca Lake, or at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, said to have Finger Lakes’ best dry riesling. (And because this is still an under-the-radar locale, appointments for tastings aren’t necessary unless you’ve got a large group.)