Hidden Vineyards Around the Globe

By: Hanifa Sekandi

As we cycle into another year, we often think about the year we just endured, years past and what may be in the future. The notion of “Are you living your life?” has a strong presence during this introspective time. Also, are you holding yourself back? Are you living a life full of moments you can look back at and cherish? Travel is a wonderful way to experience life. It is during our travels that we collect enriching moments. If you are fortunate enough to travel, you understand the value of experiencing a new place. Is it too late to explore? Never! There are hidden vineyards around the globe waiting to enchant you. Viticulture is more than just a beautiful bottle of wine. It is an opportunity for you to explore, to see all that this life can be. There is something still waiting for you to uncover. Perhaps in the coming year, you will find yourself in a land unknown at one of these hidden vineyards, capturing a moment of a lifetime.

  Dorothy realized on the Yellow Brick Road that there is “no place like home.” Sometimes that hidden gem is closer than one believes. There could be a beautiful vineyard in North America you have yet to discover. Other times, we must push our limits, dive into the unknown and travel to foreign lands where unseen vineyards thrive. The world of viticulture is as complex as the vines that grow. It gives as much to life as it is given. More importantly, it is the hands that toil the land. It is the winemakers who should be revered. 

Hidden in New York

  Many people forget that New York is more than Time Square or the Statue of Liberty. Indeed, New York is a city that never sleeps at night, has Broadway shows and is filled with people rushing to catch a train somewhere. If you are visiting this state, you should consider escaping the theatrical atmosphere of the city and escaping to North Fork, New York. Just east of Manhattan, North Fork is situated on the North Shore of Long Island. This picturesque breath of fresh air is home to 36 wineries, plush apple orchards and potato farms. Here you can sip on a premium selection of wines, cabernet franc, merlot and sauvignon blanc. Many wineries offer an opportunity for wine tasting so that you can experience quite a few wines from different vineyards. Who would have thought that a northern Napa Valley-like place exists so close to chaos? Few, unless you are a viticulture expert, and so a visit to one of these wineries is a wonderful opportunity.

  In 1985, North Fork of Long Island AVA was created to preserve and continue this growing wine community. This is an important tourism infrastructure that allows this shoreside’s economy to thrive. There are many worthwhile vineyards to visit here, most notably Kontokosta Winery. It is the stunning views from this vineyard that give you a breathtaking glimpse of Long Island Sound. It is easy to feel like you have found yourself in a world that seems to exist on its own as you stroll this vineyard or find yourself taking in the expansive views while sitting on the beautiful terrace. This family-owned farm/vineyard is known for its award-winning wines. Its 2019 Sauvignon Blanc won GOLD at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and its 2018 Anemometer White also won GOLD in 2021 at the same competition. They have continued to impress, which is apparent with the numerous awards they have been awarded. The family commitment to sustainability and being hands-on during every stage of the process gives way to exceptional vintages.

Small but Mighty Moldova

  This is one of the unlikely places in the world where you would look for good wine, let alone rare or exquisite wine. Moldova is not a country many think of when considering vineyards or wine regions. As they say, gems are only found by those who seek them. Here, there are indeed decadent red and white wines and vineyards that carry stories of the past. The beauty of wine is that you learn more than just about wine. You learn that winemaking and its production hold different meanings in the country and region of origin.

Winemaking in Moldova has ancient roots from the Neolithic Period. As with many wine regions, the art of winemaking came from settlers to the land who brought with them their winemaking skills. First, settlers from Greece came with the asset of fermentation and, later the Romans’ winemaking expertise. The business of making wine and turning vineyards into a profit-turning endeavor began in the Middle Ages with senior Moldovan servants. Like many alcoholic beverages, only those of high standing or prestige in society were privy to the best bottles made.

  Moldovan vineyards are in Balti, Valul lui Traian, Codru and Stefan Voda. A vineyard considered a hidden gem is the award-winning Purcari winery, established in 1827. The favorable weather conditions in this wine region have been likened to the Bordeaux region. Both the climate and rubidium-rich soil carry similarities, leading many to conclude why the French began cultivating wine in this region. When Russian Emperor Nicholas I awarded the Pucari winery the prestigious honor of the exclusive winery in Bessarabia, it was a great shift that allowed this winery and its wines to be experienced abroad. In 1878, the Negru de Purcari won gold at the Paris World Expo. Today, this winery is thriving, and its wines are exported to over 25 markets. Yes, you can find a bottle of their high-quality wines if you live in one of the markets. But a visit to this winery situated in scenery will take you back in time and take your breath away. It is truly remarkable and a trip worth taking. Pucari is more than just a winery; it is also a hotel, so wine revelers can stay on the estate to get the essence of the old world while dining on local dishes with wine made on the estate.

Swiss Chocolate and Wine

  The Swiss are famous for their decadent chocolates. Chocolate and wine are a divine pairing. So, how does wine in Switzerland measure up? For those who have tried delicately churned smooth and buttery Swiss-made chocolates, you know that the standard for making good chocolate is beyond great; it is superb. The same sentiment extends to wine which has a long history dating back to the Roman Empire. Wine in Switzerland is predominantly produced by vineyards situated in the west and south. Red grape varieties grow quite robustly in this wine region, with approximately 57 percent grown. The remaining percentage is white grape varieties. As with chocolate, wine is steeped in traditions past. These traditions still carry the foundation of how Swiss winemakers make wine.

  Knowing that Switzerland has six wine regions to explore is a bit daunting. All vineyards in this picturesque country are worth visiting, but notably, the Lavaux region, which is nestled between the Alps and Geneva. The Domaine Croix Duplex vineyard, established in 1929, might make you want to pack your bags and move to this beautiful country. If you could imagine a paintbrush in motion, this is what you will experience if you visit this vineyard. It sits in a backdrop that makes one feel like they are living art in real time. At this family-owned estate, you can try a selection of pinot noir, one of the most common grape varieties grown in Switzerland. They also have an excellent selection of the second most grown grape, white Chasselas. Swiss winemakers are also heralded for their uncanny approach to making exclusive wines made with grapes only found in this region. Most vineyards will have a selection of specialty wines. Domaine Croix Duplex has a specialty wine called Grappa de Fleurettes. What makes this wine unique is not just the grapes. It is the process of de-stemming the grapes and gently bursting the berry so the aromatic essence is still present after the wine has been fermented and distilled. This is a sublime experience during a tasting. Add a decadent piece of Swiss chocolate, and it is pure bliss.

  Viticulture allows traditions to transcend time. Where there is wine, there is history. Alas, one must not forget the foundations that were built before them. Everything that we experience today was once a dream. Every wine bottle uncorked belongs to the past as much as it does to the present moment. These vineyards are not just needed to fill your glass but to show us that growth is challenging, but with effort, it can yield spell-bounding results. When you travel abroad, escape to a hidden winery. Meet the people, learn from them and become the ultimate student of life.

Email This Post Email This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *