The world's 10 great wine regions you've never heard of



While the Barossa, Yarra Valley and Margaret River sweep up all the tourists, the vineyards in Victoria's sleepy Beechworth region have been turning heads in the wine world. The likes of Savaterre, Giaconda and Sorrenberg are producing some of Australia's finest drops, and a visit to their terroir is an absolute pleasure. Don't miss cellar-door visits at Indigo and Haldon Estate, plus a meal at the two-hatted eatery Provenance.




CFBP8D Blue Mountain Vineyard in fall, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada str17-trav10wine

Blue Mountain Vineyard in Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Photo: Alamy

Canada produces wine: there's your first surprise. Canada produces good wine: there's your second. The Okanagan Valley, in the south of British Columbia, is the country's largest wine region, a place of rolling, vine-covered hills that fall gently into pristine rivers and lakes. There are more than 100 wineries here, about a five-hour drive from Vancouver, with most offering tastings, and plenty with excellent restaurants on site.




There's evidence that wine has been produced in Georgia for more than 8000 years, which has earned the country's industry a place on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. And yet, what do we know of Georgian wine? Precious little, though a visit to Kakheti, the country's premier region, will fix that. The area is effortlessly charming, with fortified villages dotting the hilltops, plus the local wineries offer tastings of high-quality drops.




Most wine drinkers would be familiar with Portugal's Douro Valley, the home of port, but how about Alentejo, the large region in the country's centre? Alentejo is a laidback land filled with rolling hills and golden plains, where the bulk of Portugal's olives, citrus, cheeses and cured hams are produced. It's also an important wine region, known for high-quality but affordable reds and whites, usually produced at small vineyards that welcome guests.





There's probably no wine region more beautiful than Franschhoek, the small hamlet just an hour away from Cape Town. Centuries-old vineyards here are dotted with stately Cape Dutch homes and backed by the rugged beauty of the Franschhoek mountains. The food in this area is world-class, with some of the country's best restaurants. However, it's the wine that's the real drawcard: affordable, delicious drops that are available for tastings.




Though Italy is best known for the wines of Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto, there are some excellent drops coming out of Le Marche, in the country's centre. Sandwiched by the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, Le Marche is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to taste. It's also blissfully free of the tourist hordes, which makes a tour here a relaxed dream.




Wine drinkers know La Rioja and its bold tempranillos, and Rias Baixas' mineral-rich albarinos – but how about Basque Country, famous for its food, but also a major wine producer? This verdant, vertiginous land in Spain's north is perfect for txakoli, the native white grape, as well as bold reds produced in the highlands near La Rioja. Needless to say, there's always plenty of food to go with the drink.




There's an undisguised frustration in Chile that neighbouring Argentina gets all of the global glory for its malbec wines, while the local carmeneres are treated as second-class citizens. Chilean wine is truly great, and some of the best comes from the Colchagua Valley, a few hours south of Santiago. Here you'll find Vina Montes, Lapostolle and Vina Santa Cruz, major producers who provide a great tourism experience as well as good wine.




D99X8F Wine storehouse in wine vault, Ksara winery, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Middle East str17-trav10wine

Ksara winery, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Photo: Alamy

This isn't your average wine region. The mountain-fringed Bekaa Valley, in north-eastern Lebanon, is aesthetically beautiful and warmly welcoming, but it's also Hezbollah-controlled land that's worryingly close to Syria (the Australian government has issued a "do not travel" warning for the northern half of the valley). Fortunately, some of the best wineries – Chateau Ksara, Chateau Kefraya and Chateau St Thomas – are well inside the safe zone and a pleasure to visit.




The Swiss make great wine, but they also zealously horde it – exporting only 2 per cent – which means the rest of the world is yet to appreciate its splendour. You can fix that by visiting Valais, on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva. The area is known for delicate pinot noirs, juicy gamays and rich, complex chasselas, but it's also ideal for those who just love gorgeous mountain scenery and a glass of something tasty.