It wasn’t so long ago that Napa Valley was the wild, wild, West of the wine world. Vintage restaurant wine lists invariably showcased Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and maybe some Mosel wine. It only took the infamous 1976 blind tasting in Paris to put Napa beside the world’s best wine regions. Our taste for wine ballooned to cover most of the planet since that tasting 40 years ago. Yet most wine lovers still don’t have some of these best new wine regions on their radar.
If you find wines from these exciting new areas at your local shop, give it a second glass to find extraordinary value—they may even snuff out some of your favorite classic wines in a blind tasting!
Bulgaria’s Thracian Valley
Bulgaria’s largest wine region, Thracian Valley, has all the traditional makings of a great wine region: mountain, sea, and rolling hills. The Black Sea moderates summer temperatures, which allows grapes to ripen while maintaining their acidity. The Balkan Mountains protect the valley from a harsher continental climate. In fact, the Thracian Valley receives about the same amount of annual sunshine as Southern France!
While you’re sipping on Cabernet, Pinot Noir, or one of Bulgaria’s classic grapes like Mavrud, you can get lost dreaming about the region’s picturesque win escape; In 2017, Wine Enthusiast added it to its list of “Best Wine Destinations.”
Texas: The Best New Wine State
With over 100 wineries in the Fredricksburg & Texas Hill Country region, Texas is one of the USA’s fastest-growing wine destinations. About an hour west of Austin, many consider the Texas Hill Country one of the best up-and-coming wine regions due to limestone outcroppings, which lend towards complex wines with balanced acidity (Read more about soil types here). Rivers and creeks spot the area, which helps to mitigate summer temperatures.
As if great wines weren’t enough, Fredricksburg’s artsy old West charm makes the perfect backdrop for sipping a glass of Spanish-style wine.
Georgia: The Best Comeback Wine Region
It’s a bit odd to add the world’s oldest region to the list of “Best New Wine Regions,” but the country is making a comeback in the wine world. Archaeologists found pips from cultivated grapes that date back to around 6000 BC—the first known proof of winemaking! The cool part is that many of those ancient traditions are still around. Winemakers still often use large, clay amphoras called quervi to vinify their ingenious grapes, such as Saperavi and Rkatsiteli.
The result is texture, character, and incredibly food-friendly wines that make for excellent dinner conversation.
Under Melbourne and through the Bass Straight is one of the world’s most alluring sparkling and cool-weather wine regions. While much of Australia’s wine regions are under savage heat, Northern Tasmania has a similar climate to Champagne. Tasmania’s extended sunshine hours ripen grapes slowly under the refrigerated sunshine.
White grapes are the hallmark, but red grapes like Pinot Noir and even Cabernet Sauvignon come through with finesse and elegance.
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Just north of Washington state are the lush vineyards of one of Canada’s most prestigious wine regions. The winegrowing area runs North-South in axis and ranges from cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir in the north to Bordeaux-style reds in the south.
Like Washington, Okanagan is in a rain shadow, creating desert-like conditions. The dry conditions make the grapes struggle a bit (a good thing), drawing out complex aromas. Lake Okanagan helps protect the vines from harsh winter temperatures. Pine forests and fruit trees dot the lands, creating a stunning setting for a Canadian wine adventure (or at least for daydreaming of one).
Next Best Wine Regions
New (or revitalized) wine regions are popping up around the world. If it’s a region or a grape you’ve never heard of, ask for help to see if it could be your style. If an unheard-of valley in California can steal the spotlight in a lineup of the world’s best wines, you may be surprised by the quality and potential from something new. We couldn’t list them all, but also look for Baja California in Mexico, Croatia, and Virginia.
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