Have you ever wondered about underrated wine regions? We’re talking hidden gems that may not see the traffic of Napa and Sonoma, but procure quality wines and equally quality views. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of famous wine regions can feel a bit overwhelming, so we’re sharing 7 hidden gem wine regions to visit this summer.
Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada
Okanagan (also known as Okanagan Valley) is British Columbia’s premier winemaking region, home to a variety of vineyards from family-run boutiques to world-revered winemakers.
The Okanagan Valley boasts four sub-regions - Golden Mile Bench, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls, and Skaha Bench. Each distinction has unique climate conditions suited for growing a wide range of grape varieties. Daytime temperatures can exceed 100 degrees, but the valley cools down at night which allows grapes to maintain acidity.
If you’re looking for a wine getaway filled with character, lively whites, and sun-ripened reds, the Okanagan Valley might be your perfect next stop.
New York State
The state of New York isn’t exactly known for its wine culture, but it does play host to a large number of vineyards and winemakers. From the top of Long Island to the Finger Lakes and even back to Brooklyn, there are about 2,000 wineries and vineyards.
We recommend checking out the Hudson River region, whose winemaking practices date back to the late 1600s. Finger Lakes is a definite must-see, especially if you’re interested in Riesling. The most underrated wine region in New York, however, is the Niagara Escarpment. With only 20 wineries, it’s not as developed as other wine regions, but has great potential and should definitely be kept on your radar.
Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico
Revered as the ‘Napa Valley of Mexico,’ Valle de Guadalupe is quiet, unassuming, and flowing with quality wines at affordable prices. The Valle de Guadalupe is located in Baja California, Mexico, and is ideal for growing red wine grapes due to its Mediterranean microclimate and 1000 foot elevation.
Baja California actually produces 70% of Mexico’s wine! You’ll find more than 100 wineries in Valle de Guadalupe along the Ruta de Vino. Most of the wineries have popped up over the last 30 years, but what Valle de Guadalupe lacks in tradition, it makes up for in ingenuity. You’ll find a lot of biodynamic, organic, and sustainably grown wines in this area.
Unlike Napa or other highly commercialized wine regions, Valle de Guadalupe is laid-back, low-key, and highly underrated.
If you decide to take a trip to this underrated wine region, expect phenomenal Baja Med cuisine, forward-thinking wines, and an overall air of contentment. And if you can make it for the Valle Food & Wine Festival that happens every October, even better.
Kakheti, The Republic of Georgia
You may turn your head at the sound of Georgia wine (perhaps because it sounds like the lyrics to a country song), but as it turns out the Georgia viticulture is rooted in tradition that dates back to 6000 BC. Ancient Georgian winemakers would use egg-shaped Kvevri (also known as Qvevri) clay jars for making, aging and storing wine. It’s worth seeing these large vessels that are often buried in the ground up to their necks.
The most notable wine of this region is a red wine known for its deep red color and ease of aging - Saperavi. It can be aged for up to 50 years!
Lake Michigan Shore, MI
Lovingly dubbed ‘The Napa of the Midwest,’ the Lake Michigan Shore area reaps the benefits of being right on the lake. The grapes flourish due to a phenomenon called the ‘lake effect’ that regulates the climate. When it comes to Michigan, the name of the game is quality grapes with complex flavors.
In Vino Finito
Which underrated wine region are you eager to visit next? Let us know in the comments!