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When you think of wine, your mind almost certainly goes to the big hitters. Bordeaux and Champagne in France. Tuscany and Chianti in Italy. California’s Napa Valley. New Zealand’s Marlborough region. Each is internationally recognised as a hub of wine production that has existed for centuries.

But if you tread off the beaten path, you’ll find the big hitters have some serious competition coming their way. All across the world, lesser-known wine regions are coming into their own, presenting exciting new varieties and high quality, familiar grapes that are taking the world of wine by storm.

For wine lovers looking for new vineyards and new varieties of wine to try, these lesser-known wine regions in the world should be moving swiftly up to the top of your to-visit list.

Brda, Slovenia

A tiny, winemaking region that accounts for just 0.5% of the wine made in European vineyards, Brda is considered by many to be the wine capital of Slovenia. Neatly settled between the Mediterranean and the Alps, its unique climate makes it a haven for high-quality wines and has given it the nickname, Slovenia’s Tuscan. CNN even named it one of the top undiscovered wine regions in the world.

The region itself is only 28 miles long, but its sloping hillsides have made plenty of space for vineyards. Look out specifically for their primary grapes – Rebula, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignonasse.

Valais, Switzerland

Bordered by both France and Italy, Switzerland doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves in the winemaking world. The Valais region in particular is one of the most celebrated producers in Switzerland, producing around a third of all Swiss wine.

Valais is surrounded by a mountainous landscape and sits southeast of the Rhone River Valley, benefiting from the glacial waters that travel down into the lakes nearby. It’s also one of the highest wine regions in the world, at 1,100 ft above sea level.

Because the terrain can be difficult, the Valais region is better known for its red wines than it is its whites – in fact, around 61% of all wine produced is from red grapes.

Look out for particular favourites like Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chasselas and Arvine.

Dalmatia, Croatia

Though perhaps best known as being home to Dubrovnik, the capital of Croatia, the Dalmatia region is also a huge player in wine production. It’s also home to Stari Grad Plain, where the country’s oldest vineyards can be found, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

Consider the Dalmatia region as the tough cookie of the wine world. The terrain generally best supports grapes that work best in tougher soils and difficult to reach landscapes that aren’t as worked over as others. As one of four Croatian winemaking regions, Dalmatian winemakers tend to stick with traditional methods - though you’ll find a few smaller vineyards taking full advantage of new technology.

Like Valais, Dalmatia prefers red wine to white wines, which are cultivated with the help of the region’s Mediterranean climate. The region is great for wine connoisseurs who want to try grapes that aren’t as popular outside of Croatia. The most commonly grown varieties in the region include Plavina, Lasina, Posip and Kujundzusa.

Okanagan Valley, Canada

A casual wine drinker likely wouldn’t consider Canada to be one of the biggest stars of the North American wine scene, but the picturesque Okanagan Valley in British Columbia would be prepared to change their minds.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that vines started to be planted in the soil of the Okanagan Valley, a mountainous region of Western Canada. And even then, the buzz was relatively low. But it all changed in 1994, when a winery from the area was presented with the Best Chardonnay Worldwide award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Thanks to the unique climate of the area, where the days are dry and the nights are cool, the region is best known for creating dry red and white wines. They do produce the more famous ‘ice wine’ – where grapes are frozen and then processed for wine – but the most grown grape varieties include Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Found at the bottom of the Australian mainland and just an hour drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is something of an up and comer in the international wine world.

Surrounded by ocean waters, this spot is an Aussie favourite for getaways – and is also getting quite the reputation for excellent winemaking. Wine production in the region dates all the way back to 1886 and since then it has slowly been building a reputation for great wine. The current vineyards have been harvesting since the 1970s, influenced by the cooler than average climate in the area.

Mornington Peninsula's signature wine varieties include Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Gris and Pinot Noir.

Casablanca Wine Region, Chile

Argentina often dominates the discussion on South American wines, but Chile consistently matches its neighbour in both quality and variety. In the Casablanca region, found just an hour away from the capital of Santiago, the first vineyards were planted in the 1980s and have since become a huge tourist attraction.

Despite being close to the Equator, the cooling surf from the Pacific Ocean creates an almost Mediterranean-like quality to the climate, not dissimilar to that found in Napa Valley. Warm days and cool nights create a perfect atmosphere for white grapes, in particular, to grow – a departure from the Chilean reds that the country is better known for producing internationally.

Look out for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from this particular region.

Food and Wine Experiences

At tabl, we know about wine. Whether you want to seek out undiscovered gems or get a full experience complete with tasting and food pairings, our specially selected Food and Wine Tours will give you an unparalleled look at some of the most exciting vineyards across the globe. Browse our extensive directory of wine tours, or head to our website to book your next excursion today.

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