Move over France and Italy! Emerging wine regions in the most unlikely places are muscling in on the traditional heavyweights. In the last two decades wine production and consumption has increased, paving the way for new wineries to open up. Many of those wineries are in countries that normally do not spring to mind for wine drinkers, but these newcomers are finding the perfect niche to satisfy thirsty wine fans.
Why are there so many new players on the international wine scene? Global warming is opening up regions once deemed unsuitable for growing grapes. Scientific innovations have led to developing new crops of grapes that can withstand more hostile growing environments. More than ever it is possible to cultivate various types of grapes under challenging conditions. Wine consumption continues to increase and consumers are demanding better-quality wines and are willing to seek out new wine regions beyond the traditional markets.
The following are a few of the world’s newly emerging wine regions. They are proving that they can hold their own beside their more-established rivals:
Once considered a joke, the Canadian wine industry is producing some of the world’s best wines. The proof is in the medals: British Columbia’s Sandhill Estates Winery took home the bronze medal for its 2006 chardonnay at the 2008 International Wine Challenge. Meanwhile, Ontario’s Clos Jordanne Winery’s 2005 Claystone Terrace Chardonnay beat its French counterparts at the Judgment of Paris in Montreal.
This former Soviet bloc country once boasted a successful wine industry prior to communist takeover. Romania improved its wine industry as one of the requirements for joining the European Union. Offerings include the Jidvei Dry Riesling that is a refreshing alternative to usually sweet Rieslings.
Collectivized farming ruined several centuries of Bulgarian wine traditions. But today this region is producing wines more than capable of holding their own internationally. A great example is the VINI Merlot 2006, selected as Best Eastern European Red Wine at the World Value Wine Challenge 2008.
Greek wine suffered a reputation for poor quality even with 3,000 years of experience. Today this region is making a comeback as it revives its industry and experiments with better grape varietals for its arid climate. The 2007 Makedonikis Tsantali Dry Red shows Greek wine is unstoppable.
Recent improvements in research and development are bringing Brazil alongside South American counterparts Argentina and Chile. At the San Francisco Wine Competition 2007, out of 1,000 wines from 21 countries, Brazil won one silver and six bronze medals – not bad for a wine industry still in its infancy
This small but growing wine region gave the world Sally Cat Pinot Noir and proved screw caps are the way of the future. Look out for 2007 Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir, a gold medal winner at the 2008 International Wine and Spirit Competition.
One of the biggest surprises is China, which reports an annual output of 1,450 million liters for domestic consumption. The Grape Wall of China site currently lists ten wineries. Dragon’s Hollow Cabernet Sauvignon and Unoaked Chardonnay, China Silk Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chardonnay will be in your local restaurants and wine outlets shortly.
This region is a junior partner to its neighbor California. But if the La Celto Petit Syrah from 2005 is any indication, Mexico will become known for more than tequila.
The Middle East does not have a long, traditional wine-making legacy, and the 2003 Massaya Silver Selection Red is not an easy wine to track down. However, it won’t be long before Lebanese wines are widely distributed.
Even more unlikely countries including India, the Ukraine, Switzerland, and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia are putting their stock into the world wine industry. All these emerging wine regions show that wine, seriously good-quality wine, can be grown outside the traditional zones. It won’t be too far into the future when wines from China or Brazil do to the wine industry what California did three decades ago. The international wine industry sat up and took notice, then went back to the drawing board.