Travel Spotlight

Up-and-Coming Wine Regions to Know Now

Destinations like Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Tuscany have long been sought after by travelers interested in wine, but for oenophiles looking to go off the beaten path in search of their next great pour, these lesser-known destinations offer innovative vineyards—as well as history, photogenic landscapes and unique local cuisine—that are worth exploring too.Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to one of these up-and-coming wine regions and beyond.  Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you. Plus, explore our food-and-wine-focused Indagare small-group trips.


Tourism to Georgia has been on the rise since 2017, and the international community is starting to take notice of this former Soviet country’s viticulture—which, in fact, is anything but new. Wine production in Georgia was recently proven to date back to prehistoric times (at least 3,000 years before the Greeks). Today, the country offers several interesting wine-producing regions that travelers can taste their way through, but Kakheti is one of the most popular. Wines here lean towards the acidic, with the most typical white variety being Rkatsiteli, and the most common red, Saperavi. Don’t forget to order a few plates of the country’s famously indulgent comfort foods, like cheesy bread (khachapuri) and meat-stuffed dumplings (khinkali). The capital city of Tbilisi provides a culture-packed jumping-off point—with great local restaurants—for adventures in the Georgian wine country.Related: Just Back from Georgia: One of the Last Great Undiscovered Food Cultures of Europe


To the west across the Black Sea, another of the world’s oldest but less lauded wine-growing regions is beginning to get the attention it deserves. Slovenia’s diverse microclimates of alpine forests, mineral-rich lakes and Adriatic coastlines are ideal for producing wine, especially white varieties, and the land is well-protected by conservation programs (Slovenia is one of the most sustainable countries in the world). There are several lovely regions to explore, but the picturesque hills of Brda (and their Rebula grapes) are perhaps the most well-known; the production of orange wines here has also earned international acclaim. Many of these vineyards are within a few hours’ drive of Ljubljana, where travelers can spend time touring medieval castles and churches and shopping for artisanal crafts.Related: Why Go Now – Slovenia

Finger Lakes, New York

For a tasting trip a bit closer to home, look no further than upstate New York’s Finger Lakes. Just a five-hour drive from New York City or a six-hour drive from Boston, the Finger Lakes offer outdoor activities like hiking and skiing, cozy lodge hotels and, yes—great wines. Says Indagare’s Membership Director Alex Clifford, a former sommelier for the Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant Marea: “Because of the cool climate, the Finger Lakes excel at German varietals like Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Dr. Konstantin Frank figured out how to grow good wine here in the 1960s—he was the real pioneer in the region.” Today, Frank’s winery is still in operation, welcoming guests to savor a variety of tasting and touring experiences, with serene views over Keuka Lake. After hours spent soaking in the verdant majesty of the Empire State and sipping your way through fresh, tart flights, a stylish boutique property like The Lake House on Canandaigua (which opened in the summer of 2020) will be ready to welcome you home.Related: 5 Reasons to Travel to Upstate New York this Fall

McLaren Vale, Australia

Australia’s vast and varied topography has inspired the cultivation of many wine-growing areas across the country, with the Barossa Valley being the most internationally acclaimed (despite being considered New World producers, unassuming wineries here are working some of the oldest vines on the planet; these hardy Australian cultivars survived the Phylloxera disease that nearly wiped out western European vines in the 19th century). Just a two-hour drive south from here (or a 40-minute drive from Adelaide), the less trafficked, coastal region of McLaren Vale has recently stepped into the spotlight. Shiraz is still the grape of choice here, but the area has set itself apart as a leader in the sustainable wine-growing movement—plus, it offers dynamic estates that also appeal to art- and design-lovers. Don’t miss the MMAD Vineyard—which was planted with Grenache in 1939, Shiraz in 1941 and Chenin Blanc in 1964—and the whimsical d’Arenberg winery, which was established in 1912 and today houses modern and contemporary art installations, including an “Alternate Realities Museum.” E

xtended oenophilic adventures can continue even further from here to include the nearby Clare and Eden Valleys, which produce wonderful Rieslings.

Related: Journey to the Land Down Under: Just Back from Australia


Like its neighbors Georgia, Greece and Lebanon, Turkey has been a center of wine production for millennia; however, political policies like a 2013 ban on alcohol advertising have kept Turkish wines from achieving global acclaim. In recent years, several wine routes have begun to attract international travelers, weaving through historic villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and young, boutique wineries—including many that are female-led or organic—that cultivate such grapes as the native Öküzgözü, Kalecik Karasi and Boğazkere, alongside Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (those whose tastes skew full-bodied will be happy here). A great place to begin exploring Turkish wine is the Aegean region, which has a Mediterranean climate (thanks to its proximity to the sea) and is home to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the walls of Troy and southern seaside resort Bodrum.

Related: Where to Go This Fall

Jura, France

Often overlooked by travelers en route to the glamorous ski towns of Verbier, Chamonix and Zermatt, Jura is an alpine region at the base of the mountain range that separates France from Switzerland. (It was also the birthplace of designer Louis Vuitton, who famously crossed the region on foot to reach Paris, where he would later found his fashion brand.) In recent years, Jura has made a serious splash in French wine circles—a feat no lesser than Vuitton’s—thanks to innovative producers who are using the untouched land to make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties that rival those of the Old Guard. Says Indagare’s Alex Clifford: “I'd recommend trying the wines from Domaine du Pélican, which was established in 2012 by Guillaume d’Angerville, a winemaker from the Domain d'Angerville in Burgundy. It brings Burgundian precision to Jura.”Related: The Best Château Hotels in France

Hokkaido, Japan

Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido—which is home to the luxury ski resort Niseko and capital city Sapporo, with its eponymous beer brand—is also one of the country's top culinary destinations. With mountains, plateaus and wetlands—and slightly cooler temperatures—this northern region forms the heart of Japan’s agricultural production, as well as its up-and-coming wine scene. A favorite Hokkaido wine I've tried (which was served by the talented sommelier at The Shinmonzen, a nine-room boutique gem in Kyoto from Paddy McKillen, the owner of Château La Coste) is Nostalgia 2021 by Due Punti Vineyards, a Chardonnay blend produced in the town of Yoichi. Other interesting Japanese wines—including some that are aged in the sea—are also being produced in the prefectures of Miyagi, Yamanashi and Nagano, all on the main island of Honshu (where Tokyo and Kyoto are located). Related: The Top Foodie-Friendly Cities

Istria, Croatia

For Mediterranean devotees looking to expand their wine horizons, Croatia’s northwestern region of Istria should be next on the must-visit list. In addition to producing a wide variety of wines (including Malvasia, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Teran, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Syrah), the region is home to a truly impressive food scene (particularly celebrated for its truffles), with noted restaurants ranging from the Slow Food establishment Toklarija, which is housed in a medieval olive mill, to Monte, the first restaurant in Croatia to receive a Michelin star. Often compared to Tuscany for its verdant, rolling hills and medieval towns, Istria also has the added benefit of direct access to the Adriatic, with seaside spots like Rovinj drawing a jet-set crowd thanks to art gallery-lined streets, a growing number of luxury hotels, seasonal events, chic boutiques and, of course, plenty of wine bars. For your home base, we recommend Meneghetti Wine Hotel, a historic wine estate that is now a Relais & Châteaux haven offering an intimate experience of the Istrian countryside and pampering amenities like a wonderful spa and a private beach club. Guests can also participate in the olive harvest on-property, which kicks off in October.Related: 15 Best New Hotels in Europe


In addition to cutting-edge designers, some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, delicious cuisine and a complex, globally-minded culture, Lebanon’s many offerings for the curious traveler include a rich viticulture that is on the rise thanks to award-winning vineyards like IXSIR—which, at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, is one of the highest vineyards in the world. The vineyard is known for its sustainable architecture and delicious white wines (primarily of the Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscat varieties). For an extended tasting experience, the historic Château Musar lies just a 45-minute drive south along the sea and is another interesting addition outside of the Beqaa Valley. And for the next best thing—head to Albi in Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard, which was recently awarded a Michelin star and offers one of the finest (and most robustly annotated) Lebanese, Georgian and Levantine wine lists this side of the Atlantic.Related: Wine-Tasting Notes from the Indagare Global ClassroomContact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to one of these up-and-coming wine regions and beyond.  Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you. Plus, explore our food-and-wine-focused Indagare small-group trips.Plus: Travel this fall in style with this exclusive shopping edit from our partner Mytheresa. Explore all of our packing guides—for beach, ski, safari and more—here.

Published onOctober 11, 2023

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