If sauvignon blanc is your preferred elixir of life, then your next long-haul flight should land in Marlborough, New Zealand. Set on the east coast of the country’s South Island, the region is replete with wineries crafting the zesty stuff — specifically known as Marlborough sauvignon blanc — that rose to international fame around the 1980s. It’s also celebrated for other wine grapes, including chardonnay, riesling and pinot noir. In fact, Marlborough is responsible for about 76 percent of New Zealand’s wine production. The destination’s warm climate lends itself well to wine growing, with ample sunshine and moderate temperatures that lead to extended ripening seasons. Also to thank is the area’s terrain, which chiefly consists of highly fertile alluvial soils. Marlborough is bisected by the Wairau Valley — where Blenheim, the region’s main town, sits — and its neighbors include the Richmond Ranges, the renowned Marlborough Sounds, the Awatere River and the Kaikoura Ranges. So, besides superb wine, there’s lots of outdoorsy fun to be had by adventurous travelers. Cellar doors, or wine tasting rooms, are aplenty in Marlborough. There are 34 in total, as well as 11 winery restaurants and six accommodation options that feature vineyards.
Not only is Mendoza considered Argentina’s vinous powerhouse — about 80 percent of the country’s total wine production is attributed to the area — but its malbec wines are beloved by aficionados the world over. And a stunning panorama awaits those dedicated enough to make the trek to the province, which features distant hazy-blue mountaintops that complement the changing seasonal hues of the grapevines. Annual rainfall only reaches around 9 inches, characterizing the province as an arid desert. However, the mountain range does provide moisture in another form; its glacial snowmelt feeds an extensive system of irrigation canals. About 30 minutes from wine country, the metropolitan area wows visitors with its laid-back atmosphere, trendy restaurants and bars, manicured parks and lively, historic plazas. And though ordering a glass of malbec anywhere in Mendoza is a given, other varietals here are superb as well, including cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, torrontes and sparkling wines. Don’t miss the annual Vendimia Harvest Festival, or Grape Harvest Festival, that falls on the first weekend of March.
NAPA VALLEY, CALIF.
Northern California’s famed Napa Valley is synonymous with wine, and with good reason: More than 475 wineries — and about 95 percent of them family-owned — dot the region’s rolling hills and valleys. Thanks to a dry Mediterranean climate, as well as diverse topography and fertile soils, visitors can stock up on everything from full-bodied cabernet sauvignon and velvety merlots to buttery chardonnays and zinfandels with a kick. This wine valley in the Golden State began its flirtation with viticulture in 1838, when the first wine grapes were planted by George Yount in a town now known as Yountville. Today, the dalliance has evolved into a full-fledged, serious relationship; vineyards stretch across all of Napa’s other charming towns, including Rutherford, St. Helena, Calistoga, Oakville and its capital city of Napa. Dining excels in Napa Valley, too; it boasts a higher count of Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world, with 11 stars total at press time.
Today, more than ever, Napa Valley — as well as its sister region, Sonoma County — need tourism support. Wildfires last month set more than 200,000 acres ablaze, leaving destruction and fatalities in their wake. Fortunately, 90 percent of this year’s grapes by volume had been picked prior to the fire, and many businesses have since reopened their doors to welcome visitors.
With its craggy coastlines, white-sand beaches, alpine wilderness, deep valleys, swaths of rainforests and indigo-blue rivers, Tasmania looks something like a Garden of Eden. But Australia’s only island state — and a heart-shaped one at that — offers more than just eye candy; it’s also the birthplace of superb, aromatic and elegant wines, including award-winning varietals of pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and sparkling wines. Most of Tasmania’s small wine producers only sell their wines on-island, so visiting is the best way to try wines and meet their talented producers. Wine Tasmania also offers a number of wine trails that help travelers navigate the island’s wine-growing areas: North West Wine Trail, Tamar Valley Wine Route, East Coast Wine Trail and Southern Wine Trail.
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Article gleamed from our Travel Agent Publication Travel Age West by: Valerie Chen