You know that Croatia has a heartbreakingly gorgeous coastline, and that Idaho has famous potatoes -- but did you know that they both produce notable wine? It's not just novelty: More and more regions around the world are beginning to create legitimately intriguing, attention-worthy wines.
Some are just now climbing out of the jug wine ghetto, while others have been steadily building a tradition of fine winemaking for centuries. From Macedonia to the frozen vineyards of Ontario, Canada, here are the seven unsung or up-and-coming wine regions to check out next.
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1.) CroatiaCroatia sits just across the Adriatic from one of the most revered wine regions in the world. Its jagged, rocky coastline, attended by dozens of small islands, is the stuff of fantasy: white sand, hidden coves, and miles of can't-believe-it blue water. Beyond the beach, however, Croatia is home to its own winemaking tradition that dates back to 5 BC. Today, there are over 300 defined wine regions, which are largely divided between the warmer continental areas, and the coastal stretches that boast flawless Mediterranean temperatures.
Where to Start: Plavac Mali. Grown along the Dalmatian Coast, the nation's signature grape is kin to the original Zinfandel.
2.) IdahoThe mention of Idaho brings to mind just one crop, and it's certainly not grapes. But Idaho's history of winemaking stretches back a century; some of the earliest vineyards in the Pacific Northwest took root in its southwestern hills. In 2007, the state received approval for its first AVA -- the Snake River Valley (approximately half the size of the Columbia Valley).
Where to Start: Sawtooth. This award-winning winery continues to gain attention for its excellent Syrah and Pinot Gris.
3.) ChinaThough China has only recently become a major player in the importing of French and U.S. wine (the nation is now the largest foreign buyer of Bordeaux), it does in fact have a nearly 5,000-year old history of making wine from grapes. The country's thirst for internationally-produced wine is poised to grow to unprecedented heights in the next decade, and in the meantime, domestic production -- once largely focused on pumping out cheap jug wine -- continues to grow and refine. There are over 400 wineries now in operation, led by the nation's big three: Dynasty, Great Wall, and Changyu.
Don't miss: The next five years. Watch out for more and more Chinese bottles of note to hit American shelves and restaurant wine lists. While you're waiting, check out one of the nation's best expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon by Great Wall.