Napa is great, just not unique. So what's the best move if you want a wine-focused getaway that's a little less played out? We were wondering the same thing, so we enlisted Joan Roca for some help. As co-founder of luxury travel concierge service Essentliast, he's got a great feel for the world's best travel spots and delivered us three top wine destinations that feel both fresh and interesting.
Location: Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico
What's the best time to visit? "Any time of year due to the region’s moderate temperatures—summer can be a bit hot—but we recommend immersion into local culture by visiting during the Valle Food and Wine Festival in October."
Why is it flying under-the-radar? "Though Valle de Guadalupe—only 90 minutes south of San Diego—is known among foodies, the region is still overlooked by more popular California wine destinations such as Santa Barbara and Napa Valley. Interestingly enough, Baja California produces 70% of Mexico’s wine, which is best showcased in the over 100 wineries along the “Ruta del Vino” (wine route) in the valley."
What's the region is best known for? "Full-bodied reds and whites with grapes such as Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay."
Where should we stay? "Bruma—a winery and hotel with eight spectacular guest houses, and an exceptional restaurant, Fauna, which boats a daily experimental menu prepared by the talents of esteemed chef, David Castro Hussong."
Location: Finger Lakes, New York
What's the best time to spend time here? "Late summer/September/October or late spring for tours of vineyards. This said, any time of year is perfect for visiting local wine bars as well as experiencing local gastronomy at the area’s restaurants."
New York? How is this not already a top spot? "Great New York wines are often disregarded compared to wines from other region’s around the world; however, Finger Lakes has been producing five-star varietals for decades now and New Yorkers are just catching on."
What kind of wine should we expect? "White and sparkling wines, which include Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
What's your favorite spot in the area? "Ravinous Kitchen, which offers a farm-to-table eating experience with seasonal innovative dishes thoughtfully paired with wines from on-site artisanal winery, Ravines Wine Cellar."
Location: Moravia, Czech Republic
When should we head out? "Moderate sunny dates are most commonly experienced during late summer/September, however, guests looking to soak up local culture should visit during the city-wide Prague Wine Week, which takes place at the end of January. In spring, wine enthusiasts can hit the Praha Pije Vino festival, which focuses on natural wines from Czech region, Moravia."
Isn't the Czech Republic known for beer? "Yes, Moravia is within a country known more for its beer than grapes but the area has quitely been producing wine since the Roman times and has been gaining popularity after seeing a steady growth of investment and refinement in the local wine-making industry."
What kind of wine are we looking at? "Local varietals of grapes that produce white wines such as Gruner, Veltliner, and Muller-Thurgau, as well as red wines such as the central Europe-grown Frankovka."
Any other recommendations while here? "I recommend a side-trip to the country’s capital, Prague, followed by a road trip through Moravia and Austria to do even more wine-tasting—but this time, hitting two countries."