Wine harvest season is quickly approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and now's the time to taste what the latest batch of bottles have to offer. Plan your fall getaway around wine tastings in one of the world's more off-the-beaten-path regions. Sure, Tuscany is always a winner, but lesser-known locales like Turkey and Tasmania are stepping up their game, producing quality wines that may not even make their way across the globe. Here are 10 places to sample sensational vino straight from the source.
The Keuka Lake Wine Trail is one of three trails in the Finger Lakes region — Photo courtesy of Nicole Young
Finger Lakes, New York
Referred to as the wine region of the east, Finger Lakes in New York is known for its stand-out selection of wines like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, sparkling and ice wine. Seen as a more affordable spot for wine touring in the US, Finger Lakes Wine Country has 100 wineries to choose from on the three scenic trails snaking their way around the region's four lakes, including the longest running wine trail in the US, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.
Lumbarda on the island of Korcula produces dry whites like Grk — Photo courtesy of Lane Nieset
There's a reason you won't find Croatian wines on the shelves back home–the country doesn’t export. Winemakers joke that it’s because they'd rather drink it all themselves, but in reality the country produces a fraction of the bottles you'd find in larger wine-producing regions. On the island of Korčula alone, you'll find one of the richest regions for vino, Lumbarda, which has been growing and making wine for more than 2,300 years, producing favorites like the dry white Grk.
Malta and sister island Gozo are teeming with indigenous wine — Photo courtesy of viewingmalta.com/Courtney Farrugia
The island of Malta is arguably one of the Mediterranean's best-kept secrets when it comes to wine, producing varieties that are on par with heavy hitters like Spain, Italy and France. The grapes here are grown in the island's limestone terroir and thanks to the hot climate and 300 days of sunlight per year, grapes ripen at a rapid pace. You'll find classic varieties like Merlot, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, as well as grapes indigenous to the island like the red Gellewza and crisp white Ghirgentina, which can also be sampled next door on the sister island of Gozo.
Turkey's been on a role refining and working with 30 of its over 1,200 grape varieties using New World-style techniques in terms of wine making. Anatolia has a history of wine production dating back 7,000 years, and the region is now known for its wines like the Chardonnay-style Narince, which means "delicately" in Turkish, and makes for the perfect aperitif or seafood pairing.
Stellenbosch boasts over 150 wine farms — Photo courtesy of Dave Bezaire via Flickr
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Just a 40-minute drive from Cape Town on the Western Cape lies more than 150 wine farms and estates dotting the Stellenbosch winelands. The first region in South Africa to create a wine route, Stellenbosch's vineyards craft a mix of classic white and red varieties that grow in the valleys surrounded by the rolling hills and mountains of Jonkershoek, Simonsberg, Papegaaiberg, Groot Drakenstein and the Twin Peaks (Die Twee Pieke).
Head down under to Tasmania's wine route — Photo courtesy of Tamar Valley Wine Route via Flickr
Australia isn’t lacking when it comes to wine, featuring 18 wine regions in South Australia alone, but there's one spot that's slightly more off-the-beaten-path when it comes to wine country, and that's because you have to cross the sea to get to it. The island state of Tasmania has all the right ingredients for cool-climate wine production, growing grapes like Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, all just a quick drive away on wine routes leading from capital city Hobart.
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Baja California in Northern Mexico is helping put the country on the map when it comes to wine. The "Wine Capital of Mexico," Baja California makes 90 percent of the country's wine and hosts the Fiesta de la Vendimia (vintage festival) each August. Explore the region's wine on the Ruta del Vino, or wine route, connecting 50 wineries with farm-to-table restaurants, hotels and the Museum of Viticulture and Wine.
Porto may steal the show when it comes to being a well-known wine country in Portugal, but the volcanic slopes and valleys of Madeira have also been a hotbed of wine production since the 15th century. The island's wines have captivated European courts and even served purposes other than the drinking kind, used as a form of perfume on scarves. If you're heading to the island, be sure to try one of the common red varieties, Tinta Negra Mole, crafted 200 years ago by blending Pinot Noir and Grenache.
Georgia is one of the oldest wine producers in the world — Photo courtesy of Khuroshvili Ilya via Flickr
Georgia's relationship with wine is thought to date back more than 7,000 years, with artifacts showing grape juice being fermented underground in clay jars in 4000 BC. The Kakheti region, north of Azerbaijan, produces most of the country's wine in its fertile valley, creating popular blends like the white Tsinandali and the red Mukuzani.
Tokaj is one of Hungary's most famous wine regions — Photo courtesy of Szabolcs Marci via Flickr
In Hungary, you'll find 22 wine regions scattered throughout the country, but one of the most famous is Tokaj at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains in the northeast, which is known for its sweet wines. Dubbed the "Wine of Kings and King of Wines," Tokaji Aszú, made from noble grapes, was a favorite among everyone from Louis XIV to Beethoven.