Love a good glass of wine with your travel? While your first instinct might be a pilgrimage to standards like France or Italy, or even the more recently popular Napa and Barossa Valleys, taking your tasting off the beaten track can be very rewarding. Check out these three wine tasting destinations you probably haven’t heard of for great views, foodie-pleasing cuisine, and good, interesting wine tasting.
Nestled in the Andes Mountains, Mendoza is Argentina’s most important wine region. While a variety of grapes are grown here, the most important wines produced here are darkly fruit-forward Malbecs. In fact, Argentina boasts more than 75% of the Malbec acres in the world, and the bottles produced here have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. The region has kept its relaxing, laid-back pace even as it’s evolved to keep up with the growing demands of wine tourism. A visit here means good wine, good food, and stunning views, all set at a vacation-perfect pace. If you’ve got a taste for adventure as well as wine, Mendoza might be your dream destination – it serves as a jumping off point for Andes adventurers seeking rafting, skiing, or other thrills.
The Aegean Islands, Greece-
Oceans so blue they seem unreal, sumptuous Mediterranean cuisine, and friendly vibes all pair excellently with a good glass of wine. The islands of Santorini, Samos and Crete are all surprisingly good wine tasting destinations, and the convenient ferry system makes a visit to all three (and others if you have the yen to explore) a perfectly doable endeavor. The wines here are varieties you may have never heard of, quintessentially Greek and bursting with unique, local flavor. They pair beautifully with the fresh, vibrant local cuisine – after all, what’s better than wine and good Mediterranean tapas? It seems obvious, but it bears saying that you should indulge in as much fresh seafood as possible while here as well, paired with a glass of white like Santorini’s crisp Assyrtiko or Crete’s Vilana.
Northern Michigan, United States-
Northern Michigan’s wine country may be the U.S.’s best-kept wine secret. While it’s a bit out of the way, venturing here in the summertime is a real treat, with wineries dotting the country roads weaving between the small towns populating the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas. The area is breathtakingly gorgeous, with Lake Michigan never far from view, and miles of cherry orchards and vineyards around every curve. Quirky, friendly, “micropolitan” Traverse City is your best bet for a home base – its food scene is a longtime favorite of chef Mario Batali, who can be found there every summer enjoying its beautiful beaches and delightful cuisine. It’s a place with offerings to be proud of served up with a particularly Midwestern lack of pretention. Rent a car and cruise the wine trail (responsibly!) to make the most of the countryside. While there’s lots of good stuff on offer, check out Bel Lago for gorgeous, award winning reds (try the Tempesta), L. Mawby for a sip of sassily-named bubbly, and Black Star Farms for a local favorite (their Arcturos whites are a must-try) – all with a breathtaking view.