Wine's Most Exotic Addresses
From icy Sweden to tropical Southeast Asia, intrepid vintners are pushing the boundaries of the wine world. Read on for nine farflung viticultural areas worth exploring, from Bali to Tunisia.
Founded by Bagus Rai Budarsa in 1994, Hatten Wines is located near Bali’s arid northeast coast. Indonesia is overwhelmingly Muslim, and since 1990, it has outlawed any new alcohol-producing enterprises. But Budarsa had a successful rice-wine business prior to the ban, allowing him to continue making wine. The grapes used are Probolinggo Biru (possibly brought to Indonesia by the Dutch), the French grape Alphonse-Lavallée, and Belgia, a Muscat grape.
Vin de Tahiti is the world’s only winery built on a coral atoll. Despite its tropical location at 15 degrees south latitude, the Rangiroa atoll, where the winery is based, has a relatively dry climate. Vin de Tahiti makes whites and rosés from ungrafted Carignan and Muscat Hamburg vines, chosen for their ability to tolerate heat. Because there’s no cold-weather dormant season, the vines provide two harvests per year, in May and December.
Kenya, with two wineries, probably holds the record for the closest vineyards to the equator. South African-trained winemaker James Farquharson runs Rift Valley Winery, whose vineyard is planted at 6,500 feet above sea level, 55 miles northwest of Nairobi. Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd. is the country’s other producer, making Yatta Wines. The Yatta vineyards were planted in October 1992, using cuttings imported from South Africa, including Ruby Cabernet. The first harvest was in 1995.
The Phoenicians likely introduced wine here more than 2,000 years ago. However, production languished under Arab rule after the 9th century before being resurrected under French control in the late 1800s. Now, Tunisia boasts seven appellations growing mainly southern French varieties like Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, although the whites and rosés are better to sip while visiting the country’s famous beaches.
Buddhist missionaries introduced grapes here in the 8th century, and in 1196, the local grape Koshu was given its name. The current winemaking industry dates to 1870, with 175-odd wineries in 36 of Japan’s 43 prefectures. Notable producers near Mt. Fuji (and Tokyo) include Alps, Château Lumiére, Château Mercian, Grace, Hayashi Noen, Ikeda, Izutsu, Katsunuma, Kitanoro, Kizan, Manns, Obuse, Rubaiyat, Sadoya, Sapporo, Soleil, St. Cousair, Suntory and Villa d’Est.
In the spring of 2011, Scottish food writer Christopher Trotter planted 100 grapevines in the garden of his Upper Largo estate on the southern coast of Fife. His Rondo, Solaris and Siegerrebe vines are hardy enough to survive frigid temperatures. He aims to plant out a 2.4-hectare vineyard and produce his own Chateau Largo rosé this year.
Despite its French colonial heritage and long history of table-grape production in the Mu˜i Né and Nha Trang regions, wine grapes were introduced to the highlands of southern Vietnam only about 20 years ago. Dalat Beco, a partnership of French viticulturist Daniel Carsol and the Dalat Beverage Company, planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in 2007.
Volcano Winery makes “wine” from guava and macadamia nut honey, but also features an estate Pinot Noir. Retired Oahu veterinarian Lynn “Doc” McKinney founded Volcano Winery in 1986 and planted the Symphony grape (a crossing of Grenache Gris and Muscat of Alexandria). After a fire destroyed many of the original Symphony vines in 2000, new owner Del Bothof replanted with Maréchal Foch, Chambourcin, Cayuga White and Pinot Noir. Maui’s Winery cultivates Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec, Syrah and Viognier.
In Skåne, the wine-thirsty country’s southernmost province, wine production began in earnest during the mid- to late-1990s. Specially bred cold-resistant varieties like Solaris and Rondo are common, but there’s increasing emphasis on sparkling wines using the traditional varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Visit in the summer, when sightseeing can include golf outings and tours of historic castles.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE