Here are the 5 wine travel destinations that should be on your radar .
Israel’s relationship with wine stretches back thousands of years, yet its modern-day reputation as a producer revolves around kosher bottles of varying quality. A new generation of winemakers is hoping to change this, embracing state-of-the-art winemaking techniques and limiting production to the cooler northern regions, such as Galilee, which includes Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, and the Golan Heights.
California native Victor Schoenfeld heads the winemaking operation at the award-winning Golan Heights Winery. A graduate of UC Davis, Schoenfeld gained experience at critically acclaimed international wineries, including Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley, Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma Valley, and Champagne house Jacquesson & Fils, before joining Golan Heights in 1992. The winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon-driven bottlings are arguably the region’s finest.
A handful of wineries, such as Bethlehem’s Cremisan Wine Estate, shun international varieties in favor of native grapes like Baladi (red), and Marawi, Jandali, and Dabouki (white).
Recanati Winery, which was a key factor in restoring native white grape Marawi, splits production between French-style blends and indigenous varieties. The winery released its inaugural Marawi bottling in 2014.
Israel has just over 50 commercial wineries in total and spans 260 miles north to south, and 70 miles east to west. A side trip to the Israel’s wine countries can easily be incorporated into visits to Tel Aviv, which is served by direct flights from major U.S. cities including Washington, San Francisco, New York/Newark, and more.
4. ELQUI VALLEY, CHILE
For a total of two minutes on July 2, 2019, the moon will completely obscure daylight as it passes between Earth and the sun. Chile’s wine-producing Elqui Valley is one of the world’s best locations to witness this year’s breathtaking total solar eclipse.
Situated 300 miles north of the capital, Santiago, the Elqui Valley runs from the Pacific coastal city of La Serena to the Andes Mountain range and Argentine border. The country’s northernmost wine region makes expressive varietal wines from Carménère, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. It’s also Chile’s leading pisco-producingregion.
In the heart of the valley lies the village of Pisco Elqui. With a number of hotels and pisco distilleries, and close access to the valley’s nearby wineries, it’s the best location to plan your visit around. But a two-hour bus ride to the nearest airport in La Serena, or a five-hour drive to Santiago, mean that careful planning before visiting is advisable.
Choose Casona Distante for a romantic hotel break, or consider Refugios La Frontera and Elqui Domos, which each have private observatories. Check in advance that the region’s premier wineries, Viña Falernia and Cavas del Valle, are receiving guests during your stay, likewise with pisquerías Aba Distillery, Pisco Mistral, Fundo Los Nichos, and the Capel Distillery in nearby Vicuña.
3. PROVENCE, FRANCE
Rosé. All. Day. Drink in the hottest trend of 2018 (and, by all estimates, 2019, too) in its geographic and cultural apex. The leading vines for rosé production are firmly rooted in the soils of southern France’s Provence region and there’s nowhere better to enjoy the light and refreshing wine than on the very shores from which it hails.
A patchwork of lavender fields stretching from the Rhône River to the Italian border, Provence has picturesque seaside and mountains and more than 400 vineyards. Wineries such as Château de Berne and Domaine de Fontenille pair blush pink tastings with local fine cuisine.
The old port city of Marseille is a vibrant base camp. It’s home to the three-Michelin-starred, Le Petit Nice, celebrated for its multi-course tasting menu based entirely around the city’s most famous dish: bouillabaisse. The family-run establishment (which recently celebrated its centenary) also offers luxury accommodations in the form of two boutique five-star villas. Yes, you are here for rosé, but don’t even think about leaving the city without sampling local-favorite pastis, on the rocks with ice-cold mineral water.
Nearby Arles provides a quieter alternative. Check out the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh and Musée Réattu, or head to the Musée de l’Arles Antique and Museon Arlaten for ancient artifacts. (Arles has a more than 2000-year history, with original Roman ruins still scattered throughout the city.)
2. FINGER LAKES, N.Y.
The Finger Lakes proves that top-quality oenotourism exists on America’s East Coast. Riesling production leads the way, but other new and exciting bottlings — such as Dr. Konstantin Frank’s amber Rkatsiteli, Forge Cellars Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Francs from Domaine LeSeurre and Hermann J. Wiemer — are emerging all the time.
Production is centered around the Keuka, Cayuga, and Seneca Lakes, three of the 11 that give the region its name. Dr. Konstantin Frank, located on the west side of Keuka Lake, and Hermann J. Wiemer, on Seneca Lake, are the region’s pioneering wineries, not to be missed during your visit. Weis Vineyards, Boundary Breaks, and Standing Stone are other exciting winemakers to check out while you’re in the area.
The Finger Lakes craft beer scene, is flourishing, too. Two Goats Brewing (Seneca Lake), Prison City Brewing (Auburn), and Abandon Brewing (Penn Yan) are just a few of the numerous worthwhile departures from the wine route, for when you’ve had your fill of Riesling for the day. (See also Finger Lakes Beer Trail for a handy map of the region’s 70-plus breweries.)
1. SHERRY TRIANGLE, SPAIN
Somm-favorite sherry might not enjoy mainstream popularity (yet!), but the category offers the complexity and ageability we look for in premium white wines at a fraction of the price. The only thing holding it back? Sherry’s numerous styles, which are tricky to navigate and can be easily off-putting. The best way to fully appreciate and savor the category is to visit the bodegas of El Marco de Jerez. (You can thank us when you get back).
El Marco de Jerez, a.k.a. the Sherry Triangle, is situated a one-hour train ride south of Seville, in a sun-soaked corner of Andalusia. Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María are the three cities which define the triangle’s borders, and all of the region’s sherry blending and aging takes place in bodegas (wineries) within them.
The name sherry is actually an anglicization of Jerez, the inland city that has some of the most well-known sherry bodegas. Tío Pepe is one example, located a short walk from the city’s central square, La Plaza del Arenal. The bodega has a list of tour options, including a one-and-a-half-hour tour and tasting, a biking tour of local vineyards, and a ‘deluxe’ tour, which incorporates vineyard and bodega visits with breakfast and a paired lunch.
With a focus on aged sherries, Bodegas Tradición promises to satisfy aficionados’ palates, while the collection of Spanish artwork adorning its walls (including paintings by Picasso, El Greco, Goya, Velásquez, and Zurbarán) is museum-worthy.
The coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda hosts the perfect conditions for producing manzanilla, a mineral-rich dry sherry that pairs perfectly as an aperitif with green olives and marcona almonds. Like Jerez, Sanlúcar has several bodegas to visit (such as Barbadillo, Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, and Bodega Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín). Casa Bigote, the city’s most-renowned seafood-only restaurant, pairs exceptional manzanilla and more with local sea fare. And don’t leave without dropping in on world-famous Bodegas Osborne in El Puerto de Santa María.