By Julia Pond, Managing Editor
All you need is an adventurous spirit and a couple bucks in your pocket (and to know where to look) to veer off the Californian Merlot (or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) trail and take a virtual trip to some truly different wine countries. No need to be an expert on terroir, mouthfeel and all that jargon: you'll be headed beyond the Finger Lakes of Long Island here, to places like Turkey and Gloucestershire. Read on for details, then start saving for a plane ticket, or heading down to your local shop to ask about imports.
An incredible place to go hot air ballooning and one location for Star Wars, Cappadocia's rocky, arid climate turns out some deeply tasty reds. Visit Turasan Winery in Urgup for a tasting and bottles to bring home. Unfortunately, they don't export.
Taking part in the budding wine industry in the Palestinian Territories offers a way to get to know the land and its fruits while supporting local business. Enter Taybeh Winery, the first boutique winery in the region (the Cremisian monks also produce wine). The vintners have replanted grapes on historic wine growing land, and offer tours and tastings. It's about twenty minutes from Jerusalem or Ramallah.
Texas Hill Country, USA
Beer and barbecue are more likely to spring to mind than wine when you think about Texas. But did you know that in the Hill Country outside Austin, they're producing some great vino as well? Try Messina Hof winery in Bryan (go on a Wednesday for wine + chocolate night) or Fiesta Winery in Horseshoe Bay (owned by the same family for 6 generations!). So next time you're holed up in one on the list of cool Austin hotels, get out of town for the day to a local vineyard!
Is it possible that the country of PG Tips and room temperature ale also produces rich, complex wine? The weather is so damp, with little of the sun we've come to expect from most major wine regions, you say. Well, Gloucestershire just threw a curve ball that busted the door of your wine cellar right open. Three Choirs Vineyards is probably the most well known - they were the first English winery to be awarded a Gold medal at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France, and are known for growing classic and modern grapes side by side (like Pinot Noir and Bacchus).
Lake Erie, USA
Wine is being produced near Lake Erie? Even more shocking: it's pretty darn good. Lake Erie is actually a designated wine region (AVA, or American Viticultural Area). For years grapes from this area were used mainly for kosher wine or grape juice. Very recently, however, new vintages are springing up. Try a Traminette (a version of German Gewurtztraminer) from R Wine Cellar in Pittsburgh, or visit M Cellars near Cleveland, Ohio, who have won numerous local awards and named a dry riesling blush after their first daughter, Amelia. Kelley's Island, pictured, is another popular one.
Our previous knowledge of Asian wine consisted of buying a bottle of 'Indian' wine from a shop in Rome with a front label of the Taj Mahal and a back label from Montepulciano...hardly an authentic experience. However, the Khao Yai region is becoming better and better known for its wine production. Two big vineyards to try are Khao Yai winery and Granmonte.