It’s 2018, which means there’s a 12-month-long blank slate in front of you. Why not make this your year of wine travel? Nothing beats the experience of visiting a wine region in person.
Winding through vineyards, meeting winemakers face-to-face, and sipping a wine on the grounds where it was grown provides a deeper understanding of that area and its grapes. The world of wine is vast, but some regions are particularly worth exploring now, thanks to their emerging producers, under-the-radar cuisine, and unique cultural attributes.
That’s why we compiled the top 10 destinations that wine lovers should put on their dockets for 2018. Options for adventurers, urbanites, and beachgoers stretch from South Africa to Spain to the South Pacific. If you get to all of them this year, well, consider us wildly jealous. (Also, can we come?)
And if you can’t get to all in 2018, good news: There’s always next year.
Local winemakers and chefs return to ancient roots on this affordable island
Greece remains an affordable destination for world travelers, but instead of following the pack to the tourist-filled (though wonderful) Santorini, head to Crete instead. Greece’s largest island has the gorgeous beaches and iconic stone architecture of other islands, but its cities tend to be more cosmopolitan, filled with nightlife and restaurants. The port city of Heraklion, on the northern coast of Crete, anchors the main wine-growing area of the island, where locals place new emphasis on ancient grape varieties and cuisine.
Unlike Santorini, which focuses on Assyrtiko, Crete is still experimenting with its local grape varieties, and for good reason: Many of the grapes found in Crete are unknown to any other world region. Tongue-twisting names like Thrapsathiri, Kotsifali, and Mantilari may seem intimidating, but the wines are wild, varied, and worth exploring. This goes hand-in-hand-with Cretan cuisine, which is founded on foraged ingredients like herbs, seeds, olives, and even snails. Restaurants like Peskesi in Heraklion newly emphasize the Cretan diet, similar to the broader Mediterranean diet but with a wildness and aromatic intensity not found elsewhere in Greece.