couple holding wine glasses looking out at winery

5 Often-Overlooked Wine Hot Spots from Kenya to Kentucky

 couple holding wine glasses looking out at winery

By Sarah Teczar

The mention of wine tours evokes images of California’s sun-dappled Napa Valley, the vineyards of Bordeaux or a sprawling Tuscan countryside. But today, wineries are popping up in some unexpected places, meaning there’s no need to stick to the predictable locations.

Millennials drank 42 percent of all wine consumed in the U.S. last year, according to Wine Inspector, and young travel lovers may want to combine wine tasting with adventure. So whether you’re a budding wine connoisseur searching for a unique tasting experience or a tourist looking for a relaxing excursion, now is the time to try a winery in an unexpected place.


Despite unpredictable weather conditions, Kenyan wineries have been thriving since the first experimental winery opened in 1985. The new industry has spawned a few different labels in the following decades. Recently, South African winemaker James Farquharson increased production of his new label Leleshwa from 10,000 bottles to 88,000 in just two years.


Though better known for its oil than its grapes, Texas’s winemaking history dates back to 1662, when Franciscan priests planted one of America’s first vineyards. Red wine reigns here, and wineries in Austin and other cities use dozens of varieties of grapes from around the world. So go ahead and order a Texan French Burgundy or a Lone Star State Tempranillo to accompany your all-American steak and potatoes.


Kentucky Derby goers might want to take a detour after the race to Equus Run Vineyards in Lexington. This winery opened in 1998, but the state’s wine production began in 1798 with the Marquis de Lafayette’s winemaker, making it the first commercial wine industry in the United States.


Japan is home to a unique variety of sweet, traditional white wine, derived from the Koshu grape. Even wine snobs (or connoisseurs, if you like) who once turned up their noses at this sugary drink now embrace Koshu. Find this treat and some table wines at one of the many wineries south of Tokyo.


For European travelers seeking a different landscape from France or Italy, Hungary is the perfect wine tour destination. Many of the country’s 22 wine regions are located near Budapest, and all are great detours for tourists wanting to see the countryside. Annual celebrations such as the Budapest Wine Festival gather renowned winemakers and are perfect for wine-loving travelers.


Sarah Teczar is a Boston-based writer pursuing her M.F.A. in fiction at Emerson College. A Francophile and lover of languages, she enjoys breaking down preconceived notions by traveling and meeting new people. Follow her @sarahteczar.

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