Jake Taylor explores some of the world’s lesser-known wine regions ….
Finger Lakes Region \ New York, US
It may not ring a bell like California’s Napa Valley, but this fecund, 23,000-square-kilometre region boasts four trails: the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail, or Canandaigua Wine Trail, and more than 120 wineries. Thanks to its cooler climate, comparisons are often made with the German wine regions along the Rhine river and, unsurprisingly, the main variety is Riesling, a vinifera grape that produces both sweet and dry wines. But you can also find excellent Chardonnays and Pinot Noir, too. Another draw is the stunning landscape, offering breathtaking gorges, waterfalls, and 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake, making the sipping all that much sweeter.
The Beqaa Valley \ Lebanon
While it is considered somewhat off the beaten track, the Beqaa Valley is one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions, with a rich history that began with the Phoenicians and continues with the determined winemakers who kept the region prosperous even through a violent civil war. Located nearly 1000 metres above sea level, the hot, dry climate helps to produce everything from Merlot to Viognier, along with rarer grapes like Obeideh and Merwah. With a history as cultivated as its soil, the valley also has plenty of ancient ruins and archaeological sites, such as the great temples of Baalbek, along with a thriving farm community. Expect friendly locals who will welcome you with open arms and full glasses.
Brda \ Slovenia
Often referred to as the Tuscany of Slovenia – thanks to its proximity to the Italian border and the Adriatic influence – Brda is surrounded by a rolling landscape of vineyards, medieval villages and verdant hills. Best-known for some of the more experimental varietals, the demise of the Soviet bloc allowed the industry here to blossom quietly and quirkily; such as at the Marjan Simcic estate, where award-winning sauvignon blancs are produced next to complex Ribollas. Many of the vineyards are about an hour drive from Slovenia’s capital, so it is possible to use Ljubljana as a base. However, several of the family run wineries offer accommodation as well as food and tours, so you can fully immerse yourself in this hidden paradise.
Tumbarumba \ NSW, Australia
With so many superb world-renowned regions such Coonawarra and Yarra Valley, it stands to reason that Australia has a few of its own lesser-known gems. Tumbarumba is one such area, established as a wine destination during the early 1980s and, despite its fledgling status, producing some very fine whites and sparkling varieties, thanks to a cool microclimate and crisp mountain air. Along the Courabyra Road in the foothills of Mount Kosciuszko, 500 kms south-west of Sydney, you’ll find several vineyards producing superb wines, including Courabyra Wines, which also has an award-winning cellar door and restaurant.