This Wine Region is Trending

 


According to the Wine Institute, in 2015, over 28 million liters of wine were produced by sixty-three different wine producing countries. There are currently 195 different countries in our world, which means that a whopping one third of it is making wine. We all cherish our favorite wine countries and regions, but there are some superior wine producing areas lurking in the shadows. Their cult followings are starting to billow and capture new swaths of wine lovers. Thirsty for the next big thing? The web’s finest wine writers are calling out the latest and greatest trending wine regions. Have you tried a bottle from one of these trendy regions yet? Grab a bottle and get on board.
Alentejo, Portugal

An overlooked wine region I think is poised for dramatic growth in the US is the Alentejo region of Portugal. While not as well-known as the Douro region, the Alentejo wine region, which covers about a third of Portugal produces the most popular wines among the Portuguese. The terroir features undulating topography, and an even very warm growing season with plenty of sun.  It also has remarkable portfolio of indigenous and international grapes that Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein refers to as the “United Nation of Grapes”. The red wines are typically made from These wines are typically made from Aragonez(Tempranillo), Castelao, Trincadeira or a combination of the three. But Alentejo has also been quick to adopt international varieties like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. And there is not better place in the world to grow Alicante Bouschet. The region’s progressive winemakers, informed by, but not bound by tradition use its diverse selection of indigenous and international grapes to produce (mostly red) wines with generous fruit flavors and refined tannins. The region is also famous for making wine in clay amphorae called talhas.  It’s a tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation, though today the techniques (and equipment) for making wine in clay vessels is being refined. In some ways Alentejo reminds me of California because of its climate, many progressive and modern wineries and focus on sustainability.  Alentejo’s combination of making generous, thoughtful wines in a sustainable way, the region’s natural beauty and vibrant gastronomic scene wines make it a natural for wine tourists and foodies alike. The wines have shown well against the against the wines of France, Spain and Italy. While the wines of Alentejo can be challenging to find – for now -  they are worth seeking out!

Martin Redmond
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog


Applegate Valley, Oregon

The varietals grown in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley AVA are as diverse as the myriad of micro-climates that make up this unique grape growing region.  "Too warm for classic Pinot," says Craig Camp, General Manager of Applegate Valley's Troon Vineyard, "and a growing season too short for Cabernet Sauvignon and [Cabernet] Franc means that we are focused on far more exciting varieties - Tannat, Vermentino, Malbec and the Rhone varieties.  The Applegate has altitude, a warm dry growing season and, on the Kubli Bench, granitic soils."  Two of several absolutely unforgettable wines I recently sampled from Troon Vineyard included a juicy, savory and smoky Black Label 2014 M*T Reserve (60.1% Tannat and 39.9% Malbec) filled with ripe blackberry, cherry and plum, accompanied by gripping tannins and vibrant acidity; as well as, the distinctive 2016 Riesling Whole Grape Ferment Orange Wine.  Crafted much like they do their red wines, this extraordinary Riesling was fresh, dry and loaded with complex layers of flavors. Fermented on its skins, it had a brief stay in mature French oak barrels, lending to its incredible texture and rich characteristics.  When asked if he agreed with me that Applegate Valley AVA was poised for an explosive presence throughout the wine industry, including consumers and critics alike, Camp answered, " The Applegate is going to gain attention for the same reason that Sardegna and Corsica are now getting serious attention.  Complex, interesting wines at prices people can afford to drink."

Julia Crowley
The Real Wine Julia


Cru Beaujolais

The Beaujolais Crus in France are poised to overcome their perennial "red headed stepchild" reputation in the US market, emerging from their unfortunate association with Nouveau Beaujolais. However, they have one remaining barrier to their explosive success: the labels on their bottles. Enthusiasts know the Cru Beaujolais are labeled by the individual Cru (e.g. Morgon, Fleurie, Saint-Amour), but newcomers are doubly mystified: Is this a Beaujolais wine? What's Morgon?  The Beaujolais producers need to get together and agree to add the moniker "Cru Vin de Beaujolais" or something similar to their labels, much as in Bordeaux and Bourgogne. Then, look out! They bring great taste and affordability. What's not to like?

Jeff Burrows
Food Wine Click


Franciacorta

Sparkling wines, in my opinion, are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance as the stigma surrounding their perceived formality subsides and consumers embrace their inherent food friendliness and overall versatility. This shift in consumer perception combined with the millennial generations thirst for something truly unique and authentic are why I believe Italy's premier sparking wine region, Franciacorta, is poised for explosive growth in the US market. Nestled in the gentle rolling hills within the northern reaches of Italy's Lombardy region, this young yet fiercely dynamic region has made tremendous progress in their quest for quality and authenticity. Governed by production standards more stringent than those in Champagne and the first in Italy to require that all of their wines be produced in the significantly more costly and labor intensive Méthode Traditionelle, Franciacorta is serious about sparkling. For much of its short history (the region has only been producing sparkling wine since 1961), the majority of Franciacorta wines never left Italian borders, as savvy locals absorbed the relatively modest production with prideful enthusiasm. But as interest in the region grows, so is production, as well as a focus on increasing exports to the Unites States. When you consider that Franciacorta typically offers a distinct price advantage over sparklers of comparable quality you might understand why I believe US consumers will offer their increasing availability a warm welcome.

Ryan O'Hara
The Fermented Fruit


Georgia

Overlooked for millennia, Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, with some winemakers still using the historic terracotta urns called qvevri, though most using more modern methods. Now, people are starting to notice the unique and high quality wines that are being produced there. Salty whites? Brooding reds? Yes and more. Not sure where to start? You could search out safe wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, but better to go indigenous and find wines made with Rkatsiteli (best known white), Mtsvane, and Saperavi (best known red) grapes for a taste of whites and reds.

Kovas Palubinskas
50 States Of Wine


Hungary

Several come to mind, including Rias Baixas, Spain (for Albariño), but I’m going to go with Hungary. For any region to break out in the national market, I feel it has to 1) be in a position to produce enough wine to satisfy the market, 2) meet quality standards that appeal to consumers and drive demand, 3) the wines need to be accessible to consumers throughout the US, and 4) be backed by a well-executed and robust marketing campaign (@FurmintUSA gets the word out!). The twist in my pick: I’m not talking about the region’s famed, golden colored, lovely dessert wines from Tokaj—principally made from the native Furmint grape variety. I’m talking Dry Furmint (non-sweet white wine)—the region’s flagship white wine. I visit wine shops virtually every weekend, and surprisingly, Dry Furmint is many consumers introduction to Hungarian wine, and they like that they taste and are eager to explore more. This suggests new growth opportunities.  While I’m not seeing a huge selection right now, I can walk into area wine shops and pick from several different producers. These wines are usually in the alternative white wine section. Some common characteristics I find are fresh fruit flavors, namely orchard and citrus blossom, along with pretty floral notes, a mineral edge, and a firm backbone of refreshing acidity—with the latter being most common across the board. These are interesting, if not unique, white wines—cerebral, in a sense. If for some (odd) reason your local wine shop or favorite restaurant does not carry Dry Furmint, the best thing you can do is ask for it by name. I encourage you to do so. For readers familiar with the wine, please leave one or two of your favorite producers in the comment section. Thank you, and have a great day.

Dezel Quillen
My Vine Spot


Israel

On a wine press trip to Israel this past January, I found that they have a wonderful array of elegant wines. One fantastic producer that can be found in the US market is Recanati Winery - I loved their Old Vines Wild Carignan.  Another producer, whose wines are unfortunately not on the US scene YET, but whom I am completely impressed with, is Ya'acov Oryah, a winemaker who makes his living by working for larger wineries, but has his own wine that bears his name. He has the only Hunter Valley style Sémillon in Israel, Emek Hatzayadim, as well as an orange wine called Alpha Omega. I have not tasted any of his wines, so why talk about him? Well, during my trip, I went to a wine symposium where I could taste many Israeli wines. Since he was the winemaker for a large wine company, he spoke to my group on their behalf. Ya'acov was a humble man who stood out with a raw honesty and transparency that stayed with me. Only after I came back to the US did I find out that he made his own small production wines… I then started to research Ya'acov further… he is not a superstar winemaker with a fancy pedigree; he is someone who is deeply admired from those in the know. Although he himself is a devout religious Jewish vintner, he fights for the rights of all winemakers, no matter their religious beliefs (or lack of beliefs), and he is drawn to wine because it is a way to connect with various people. Ya'acov is not the latest hot-shot in the Israeli wine scene but I truly believe he is the future… a future that we are all desperately trying to fight for… learning to live in a globalized world while not losing the best parts of ourselves.

Cathrine Todd
Dame Wine


Maryland

When people think of Maryland, they probably think of crab cakes. I know I did until my recent trip to Maryland for TasteCamp, an annual immersion weekend for those of us who write about or work with wine and other craft beverages. Did you know that winemaking in Maryland dates back to 1648 and that there are around 1000 acres planted with wine grapes? There are numerous regional wine trails across the state including the Antietam, Capital, Carroll, Chesapeake, Frederick, and Patuxent Wine Trails, as well as cider and mead trails. Winemaking in Maryland includes white, rosé, red, and sparkling offerings, as well as sweet, off-dry, and dry wines. Although there are many more, a few of my favorite producers from my visit are (in alphabetical order) Big Cork Vineyards, Black Ankle, Boordy Vineyards, Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard and Bohemia Manor Farm, Crow Vineyard, Harmony Vineyards and Winery, Links Bridge Vineyards, and Old Westminster Winery. Whether it's Old Westminster Winery’s effervescent Pét-Nat of Albariño, Big Cork Vineyards Russian Kiss (a one-of-a-kind wine made from Muscat and Russian grape varieties), a beautiful, Bordeaux-style red blend from Black Ankle, or a mouthwatering, dry rosé from Boordy Vineyards, there's a Maryland wine for everyone. I suggest visiting the Maryland Wineries Association website, marylandwine.com, where you will learn more about Maryland wine and "Create Your Journey" with the association's interactive map. It's time to taste Maryland.

Elizabeth Smith
Traveling Wine Chick


Paso Robles, California

If you don’t yet know much about Paso Robles, now is the perfect time to get acquainted. This Central Coast California region boasts more than 200 wineries, which produce wine from more than 40 different grape varieties. Home to California wine country’s highest concentration of calcareous soils, and the largest day-night temperature swings (due to the Pacific Ocean’s cooling effect through the Templeton Gap), Paso is uniquely situated to produces wines of tremendous depth and complexity. Known mostly for rich Bordeaux and Rhone reds, during a visit in September I found many thrilling wines made from Spanish, Portuguese and Italian grapes as well, and so many of the wines showed vibrancy and freshness to match the sunshiny fruit. It’s a gorgeous place to visit with easily-accessible wineries and a welcoming, small town feel. Check it out!

Isaac James Baker
Terroirist; Reading, Writing & Wine


Paso Robles, California

When you mention “Wine Region” to a large portion of people (at least here in the United States) the first thing that comes to their minds is Napa or Sonoma. Although these regions are stellar, there are so many others that have yet to rise into consumers’ consciousness and that is sad. Willamette Valley, Central Virginia, Texas Hill Country, Walla Walla just to name a few. These regions are producing wines that are beckoning for the people to enjoy, but unfortunately haven’t reached that point of popular public recognition yet. One wine region that has been trending as of recently began growing grapes  in 1797 when missionaries at Mission San Miguel Arcangel planted over 1000 vines. Paso Robles, located on the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo county, is a wine region definitely on the uptrend. The first commercial wine growing began in the 1880s with Ascension Winery, which later changed names to York Mountain Winery, and today is known as Epoch Estate Wines.

In less than thirty years, the number of wineries in Paso Robles has gone from less than 20 to almost 300 with over 40 wine grape varieties grown and 40,000 acres planted. With accolades including Wine Spectators’ #1 wine in the World for 2011 (Saxum), Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 Wine Region of the Year and Sunset Magazine’s 2016 Best Wine Country Town, Paso Robles has skyrocketed onto many wine consumer’s radar.

Lori Budd
Dracaena Wines


Paso Robles, California

With devastating fires leaving the near future of much of Napa and Sonoma County wine regions filled with uncertainty, Paso Robles stands waiting in the wings.  A region where wine making and grape growing actually predate Napa County by about 50 years, the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) is home to over 200 wineries with 40,000 of its 614,000 acres planted to over 40 grape varieties. Located along California's Central Coast and situated halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, what once was simply "East Side" and "West Side"is now further divided into Paso's 11 diverse AVAs. Many wines produced here are allocation only -- with small lot productions often selling out to club members within weeks of their release. From the well-known Tablas Creek Vineyard to the tiny production of kukkula, Paso Robles boasts exceptional Rhone style blends from Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache. For those who prefer Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape in Paso Robles. Paso also features expressive whites -- Viognier, Albarino, Chenin Blanc and Roussanne among them. And for the beer aficionado Paso Robles is home to the famed Firestone Walker Brewing Company, as well as a new crop of distillers that make their very own gin.

Amy Corron Power
Another Wine Blog


Pennsylvania

There are so many regions that are worthy and deserving of more attention, but I'm going to go with Pennsylvania -- yes, seriously. Despite a legacy of sweet, mainly hybrid and native wines that weren't very good, there is a small, and growing, group of winery owners and winemakers -- mostly clustered in the southeast part of the state -- who are redefining what Pennsylvania wines are and can be. Mesoclimates matter a lot in the Keystone State. A single hill just outside of Philadelphia yields some of most delicious, singular field blends in America at Va La Vineyards. Producers like Waltz Vineyards, Allegro Vineyards and Penns Woods are making Bordeaux-variety wines that show both power and elegance as well as delicately balanced chardonnays and sauvignon blanc. A bit further to the north, you can even find North America's benchmark Gruner Veltliner -- at Galen Glen Winery.

Lenn Thompson
The Cork Report


Santa Clara Valley, California

Time, terroir and skill will tell, but the Santa Clara Valley AVA feels poised to make its move.  With historical vineyards from the 1850’s, like Guglielmo, Soberanes and Under the Mountain, this former farming community has given way to tech sprawl. But in key areas, coincidentally adjacent to Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, which produces some of the world’s best wine #RidgeMontebello, conditions are there to produce amazing wines. Another coincidence, it was at the last Santa Cruz AVA grand tasting where I found several delightful Santa Clara Valley AVA wines. One of them was Odonata Vineyards 2014 Grenache.  Despite the above 100-degree ambient temperature, the wine delighted me with fresh spicy fruit and a lovely balance. For a producer to invest in labelling its offering with a burgeoning AVA indicates their faith in their product to distinguish itself by making the AVA reference pay off. Of course, producing distinctive excellent wine with a sense of place is step one. Santa Clara has several producers including Clos La Chance (excellent value, beautiful bottles, delicious wines) and Guglielmo (historic winery with daringly varietally specific bottlings of Charbono, Pinot Blancs, et al.)  doing that today. With more accolades and more winemakers producing a label with the Santa Clara AVA, all signs are there for the Santa Clara Valley to make a mark in the wine world.  

Liza Swift
Brix Chicks


Savennières

Savennières, a tiny appellation situated in the middle of France’s Loire Valley, may be one of the most underrated regions poised to emerge from the tables of geeky oenophiles to mainstream American wine consumers.  Chenin Blanc is the grape of the historic region.  Savennières is known for expressive, complex, beautifully textured, and high-acid Chenin Blancs.  The wines of the Savennières range from bone dry to sweet (though ~95% are dry) and tend to show their true beauty with a decade or two (or more) of age.  Look for distinctive Chenins from these Savennieres producers: Domaine aux Moine, Baumard, Domaine d’Épiré, Domaine du Closel, and Nicolas Joly.

Frank Morgan
Drink What YOU Like


South Africa

Hemel en Aarde  which translates to heaven and earth, describes not only the beauty of the land, but the quality of the wine and the name of the wine appellation near Hermanus in the Western Cape of South Africa. The charming fishing village of Hermanus is a two-hour drive from Cape Town, but you will scarcely notice the time it takes because the drive is so beautiful. Hermanus is coastal, cool and wet as is Hemel en Aarde which extends along the R320 inland from Hermanus. Hemel en Aarde is comprised of three Wards based on distinct terroir. Closest to Hermanus is Hemel en Aarde Valley, followed by Upper Hemel en Aarde and finally Hemel en Aarde Ridge. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reign supreme in this region, as you might expect based on the cool climate, and I was swept away by the quality and purity of the wines I tasted on a visit to the region last year. The wines I remember best: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson. The food and wine pairings at Creation Wines demonstrated how enjoyable these wines are with food. And finally, perhaps my favorite of all, Ataraxia for outstanding Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and their lovely Pinot Noir, Cinsault, Pinotage blend called Serenity. Finally, I must mention Storm Pinot Noir (Moya’s) which I tasted here at home and prompted my visit to Hemel en Aarde.  Whether the wines from this region will present an explosive presence in the US wine market I can’t say. I do hope they will. The effort it took to my husband and I to travel from Cape Town to Hemel en Aarde was absolutely worth it and I’m certain finding these wines in the US will be worth your while as well. Cheers!

Nancy Brazil
Pull That Cork


Texas Hill Country

When I think of an area poised for growth, Texas Hill Country comes to mind.  What many don’t know is that this is the second largest viticultural area in America with more than 9 million acres planted with several identified microclimates. Grapes planted include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Sangiovese, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre. The wines range from Bordeaux varietals to Mediterranean styles.  Keep an eye on these – especially in October during Texas Wine Month -- as the prices can’t be beat, the wines are award-winning and we take pride in greeting you with a Texas size welcome when you visit – unfortunately that is the only way you will be able to taste most of these as they never leave the tasting rooms.

Melanie Ofenloch
DallasWineChick.com


Texas

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you haven't discovered the wines of Texas, it is time to seek them out. We've poured over and poured into what works in the region. While the bigger players have been made available nationally, many have not. To sample smaller producers may require a little more persistence, but your efforts will be rewarded. The wines are as diverse as the terrain. Ranging from rustic to refined, there is a wine to please every palate and pair with every dish. You'll find some classic Bordeaux varieties and find that Rhone and Mediterranean grapes are thriving. Vermentino to Viognier, Mourvedre to Malbec, even producing lesser known varieties like Tannat and Picpoul. And look for Rosés that will make you swoon. The growers and winemakers are particularly excited about this year's harvest, in quality and quantity. Each year, more producers are committing to make wines made with 100% Texas grapes, a testament to how far we've come and how confident we are in our future.

Alissa Leenher
SAHMelier


Virginia

For three years, I just ignored Virginia while my fellow oenophiles talked about it as a wine region poised to impact the wine market, the only question being, WHEN?  Then, in conversation, I ultimately agreed to stop being a stodgy old grump and taste at least one Virginia wine. Being a champion of the independent winemakers, I eventually got in contact with a small-batch limited-production Virginia winemaker and bought some of his wines upon release. After a snag with shipping, I was regretting my decision. But that feeling turned around when I eventually popped the cork and tasted the wine; I can’t begin to tell you the shock I felt when the flavors finally reached my palate. Beautiful fruit flavors, aged in stainless steel on chardonnay lees; a remarkable mouthfeel with medium body, with an overall impression of elegance and luxury. I was impressed, not a little, but a lot. I really liked Jake Busching’s viognier and am waiting for a couple of free days to spend with his cabernet franc, which he considers to be “Virginia’s grape”. If Jake is a sole example of what is going right in Virginia, then I have a lot more tasting to do. His viognier is a prime example of excellence in winemaking, and it’s just a few states away from home- I want this in my cellar, to share with my guests. You will, too…eventually.

Jim vanBergen
Jvb uncorked


Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley makes expressive Pinot noir, but we often overlook their beautiful white wines. I am particularly fond of their austere Chardonnay styles as well as their food friendly Pinot gris and Pinot blancs, which are fruit-forward, crisp and clean. They are excellent values that showcase the spectrum of styles that are made from this region. And let’s not forget the fuller-bodied reds from southern Oregon. Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate are poised to take the market by storm with their delicious red varieties. I find their Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah and Bordeaux styles quite intriguing. And since they are reasonably priced and readily available, they are poised for an explosive presence in the U.S. market.

Pamela Heiligenthal
Enobytes

Mentioned in this article

Comments

  • Snooth User: uscunited
    539815 34

    Why are none of the wine "discoveries" not finding Arizona wines which are excellent?

    Oct 24, 2017 at 5:05 PM


  • Snooth User: peterchunt
    1285153 44

    28 million litres doesn't sound right; way too low a number.

    Oct 24, 2017 at 8:42 PM


  • Dear USCUNITED, this article was about "trending" regions, as opposed to discoveries. I agree with you, Arizona has some amazing wines to offer- my personal favorite is Sand Reckoner- http://www.sand-reckoner.com. Can you share some of your favorite Arizona winemakers?

    Oct 24, 2017 at 9:50 PM


  • Snooth User: uscunited
    539815 34

    Jim, being from the Verde Valley, we are most familiar with our local wineries. Our favorite is Page Springs Cellars with winemaker Eric Glomski. Having moved from the Monterey wine country in 2001, we thought that we had fallen off the face of the wine world until a few years later Page Springs opened their doors. We also enjoy Chateau Tumbleweed with winemaker Joe Bechard and Burning Tree Cellars with winemaker Corey Turnbull along with several other local wineries. Our Southern Arizona favorites are Kief-Joshua, Bodega-Pierce, Keeling-Shaefer, and Dos Cabezas. Although hearing good things about Sand Reckoner, I have only tried them once but their not having a tasting room has limited our accessibility. We do favor Rhone varietals so Arizona has fit our tastes nicely. The quality of wine in this small, young wine area is impressive and should be better acknowledged. It is unfortunate that most Arizona wines are not sold out of state.

    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:01 PM


  • Uscunited: Arizona sounds like a fascinating wine area. Thank you for sharing!

    Oct 26, 2017 at 7:24 AM


  • I spent a week this summer tasting and enjoying the beauty of the Finger Lakes in New York. This is a trending area. Over 100 wineries and outstanding Riesling and other aromatic whites. Check this area out. I also agree with the trending of Southeast PA. Waltz is outstanding.

    Oct 27, 2017 at 9:52 PM


  • Jessschload: I completely agree about the Finger Lakes in New York. And it is great to see those hard working producers finally get some recognition.

    Oct 28, 2017 at 1:16 PM


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