3 Emerging Wine Regions That May Surprise You

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Syrah grapes ripening on a vine

There's no shortage of information about how the world's changing climate will impact our lives in the future. When wine connoisseurs close their eyes and imagine the ideal wine country, they might picture the azure sky that blankets France, smell the Italian countryside's warm limestone and clay soil, and feel the ocean breeze that rolls over the hills of California to cool the grapes at night.

These regions have solidified themselves in the hearts and palates of wine lovers the world over. However, time changes all.

The staples of great wine production — for better or for worse — are changing along with the climate. Just five years ago, France reported earlier grape harvests due to increasingly hot summer weather. Italy is working to adapt to the inevitability of hotter summers and more frequent devastating rainfalls.

Catastrophic drought and wildfire have California vineyards increasing biodiversity among their vines, carefully monitoring water consumption, and experimenting with hardier grape varieties.

With these changes in the weather and soil that grow the grapes of the world's most delicious wines, it’s natural that previously untapped wine regions will emerge and begin to surprise the palates of the world.

Great Wine Regions of the Future

There are numerous emerging wine regions outside of Napa Valley, Champagne, and Tuscany. These underrated wine regions are quietly producing some superlative wines and are worth your consideration when you're looking for a new, unique, and superb wine to share. With this changing of the times, they may very well be poised to find their place on the mantle with winemaking greats.

Michelin-starred restaurants like New York's COTE have already brought in wines from upstate New York and the Pacific Northwest. They're also looking to bring more South American wines to their new Miami location.

Japanese wines are also finding their place on the world stage with exquisite flavors, and even countries like Norway are getting nods from wine enthusiasts who have their eyes on the future.

Whether for investment or consumption, here are five emerging wine regions you may want to consider.

1. Niagara, Canada

Ontario is Canada's leading grape-growing region, and the Niagara peninsula produces 93% of Ontario's grapes. There are around 100 vineyards on the Niagara peninsula and nearly all grape production in the area is used for winemaking. It’s the largest and most productive wine region in Canada, producing over 10 million liters per year.

The summer in Niagara gets just hot enough to make it a viable region for growing the popular Vitis vinifera grape varietal.‌ Grapes benefit from the cooling breezes that come from the surrounding lakes and unique airflow in the region helps to keep freezing temperatures at bay just long enough to extend the grape-growing season.

Niagara's unique location, temperature variation, and soil make it ideal for fantastic Pinot Noirs, Cab Francs, and Rieslings.

2. Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina

The Mendoza wine country accounts for around 70% of Argentina's wine production. It's an hour's drive south from the city of Mendoza and is quickly becoming one of the most trendy, underrated wine regions among smart investors. Because of its quality wines and rising popularity, the Uco Valley is seeing names like Andeluna, Salentein, and Archaval Ferrer to show up to invest.

The Uco Valley naturally lends itself to Argentina's main grape variety, Malbec. However, growers have produced some wonderful results with Cab Franc as well.

These quality productions are thanks in part to the Uco Valley's elevated location at the foot of the Andes Mountain, its high-quality soil, and 250 days of sunshine per year. In the coming years, this region is poised to deliver world-class wines that could rival some of the oldest names in winemaking.

3. Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

Every wine enthusiast knows that great wine is all about the little things, and the Japanese are unmatched when it comes to attention to detail. The country is already known for its refined and expensive whiskeys, precision engineering of vehicles, and cutting-edge cocktails. It stands to reason that this emerging wine region is one you should keep your eye on.

The Yamanashi prefecture boasts many native varieties of grapes, and Japan has also begun to grow more traditional wine varietals as well.

The people of Japan love natural wine. They prefer their grapes to be grown organically and the winemaking process to involve as little technological manipulation of the wine as possible. Japan has produced some of the world's most unique whiskeys, and their wine may soon follow suit.

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