Argentina&rsquos Zuccardi Valle de Uco completed a hat trick of winning the top position as the best wine tourism destination across the globe in the annual list published by the World&rsquos Best Vineyards.
Results for 2021 Top 50 Vineyards, which represented 16 countries and included first-time entrants from Lebanon and Russia, were declared on September 20 at Schloss Johannisberg, Rheingau, Germany. The World&rsquos Best Vineyards was hosted this year by the German Wine Institute.
The countdown started with a hybrid presentation consisting of a real-life ceremony and a digital live film show to showcase the world&rsquos best and most unique vineyards. The stunning Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal in Spain&rsquos Rioja region took second place, and was closely followed by Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, France.
According to the World&rsquos Best Vineyards, it aims to highlight the sheer diversity across both established and emerging wine tourism destinations and the list is voted by the Academy of 600 global wine and travel experts. This year saw 10 new destinations in the Top 50 with Karam Wines in Lebanon becoming the highest new entry and reaching number 14 in the list. There are two new Russian entries from the Krasnodar region with Sikory Winery famous for its rocky clay soil entering the list for the first time at number 20 and the Lefkadia Valley hitting number 23.
Andrew Reed, Managing Director Wine and Exhibitions at William Reed, said, &ldquoWine tourism is hugely important to the global economy and local economies, creating jobs directly at the wineries but also encouraging visitors to the area and the associated revenue which that generates. This is more important than ever with the recent global situation, and we know that by shining the light on wine tourism as we do with the World&rsquos Best Vineyards the message gets out to more people to come and discover the uniqueness of wine and where it is made.&rdquo
Steffen Schindler, this year&rsquos partner from Wines of Germany said, &ldquoWine tourism has become a very important economic pillar for many of our wine estates, and we know that the most loyal customers are those that have come to our estates and our wine regions in person.&rdquo
And remember a good vineyard is always set in stunning landscapes and has restaurants serving great food. If you visit, you get to stay in some of the world&rsquos most beautiful places.
Here is a look at the top 10 from the list.
Zuccardi Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina
This Andean winery won the coveted position third year in a row and it is not surprising that it was also adjudged the Best Vineyard in South America 2021. The Zuccardi family&rsquos stone winery is located amid the desert of the Uco Valley. Knowing about the diverse terroirs of the family&rsquos Uco Valley sites, including the flagship &lsquoPiedra Infinita&rsquo vineyard on the alluvial plains of the Tunuyán River in Altamira wine tasting, and a four-course lunch of regional produce at the onsite restaurant, Piedra Infinita Cocina, are some of the attractions to enjoy here.
Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal, Rioja, Spain
Jumping to second spot this year from sixth in 2020, it bagged the Best Vineyard in Europe 2021 title. The original bodega from 1860 occupies the heart of the Hotel Marqués de Riscal (part of the Marriott hotel chain&rsquos Luxury Collection), which is known as Plaza del Reloj (Square of the Sun Dial). Cellars of the original bodega has bottles dating back to the first ever vintage. The premium wine is made at the El Palomar (The Dovecote), which is an 1883 extension of the original building in Bordeaux style. Apart from enjoying the Frank Gehry masterpiece atop the hotel and the stunning architecture of the property, you must dine at the Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant here, where a six or nine-course &lsquoIdeas Land&rsquo for a menu with wine pairings, including rare vintages.
Château Margaux, Bordeaux, France
Leaping from rank 22 last year to third position in 2021 is no mean feat. The winery, a farm, and vineyards occupy a third of the 12th century 265-acre estate. Its winemaking history goes back to 16th century. Their wines are recognisable by the emblem depicting the 19th century Neo-Palladian villa designed by Louis Combes. Estate tours have to be booked in advance.
Bodega Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay
Opening in 2016, the estate is a destination by itself. Native forests and palm trees add to the biodiversity of the estate. Picnics, hiking, horse riding, hot air ballooning are some of the activities you may undertake here. A specialty restaurant, a golf course are some of the other attractions here. Second ranked in 2020, this year they dropped to fourth position.
Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Recognised as pioneer makers of high-end Chilean wine, the winery combines the tenets of sustainability and feng shui. The design combines the elements of metal, wood, earth, fire and water throughout. Go hiking or cycling through the vineyards, follow the botanical trail to learn about the natural vegetation, enjoy a visit to the restaurant known for its open fire roasts and grills, a of course a not to be missed guided tour of the cellars where Gregorian chants serenade the oak barrels. The winery came fifth this year, dropping by a rank from last year.
Antinori nel Chianti Classico (Marchesi Antinori) Tuscany, Italy
Moved to sixth place this year from ninth in 2020. The cutting edge winery opened in 2012 but carries the family&rsquos wine making legacy dating back to the 14th century. Headquarters of the family&rsquos business (which includes eight other estates), the place is steeped in Tuscan culture. You can learn about the Antinori family history and their philosophy on each of the four tours offered by them. Winemaking and cooking are also included in the tours.
Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina
This winery climbed to seventh position from 11th the year before. Started in 1902 by Italian immigrant Nicola Catena and raised to great heights by his grandson Nicolás (said to be one of the most decorated winemakers alive). The winery will remind you of the pyramid-shaped Mayan temples. Advance reservation required for the three tours offered by them.
Viña VIK, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Started in 2004, this winery located in the foothills of the Andes, rose to eighth position this year from 10th in 2020. You can go for day visits which includes vineyard tours, horse riding, wine tastings and fine dining. Or, you may opt to stay at the hotel located on a hill with expansive views of the valleys and a lake, and enjoy the facilities and tours at a leisurely pace. Check out their wine spa.
González Byass &ndash Bodegas Tío Pepe, Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Spain
Rose from 18th position last year to ninth this year. They offer private tours which include vineyards, winery, bottling rooms and 19th century aging cellars, and ends with wine and tapas tastings. They also opened the world&rsquos first sherry themed hotel where guests can stay in elegantly refurbished 150 year old buildings, once home to the winery workers. Located in the heart of Old Town Jerez, the hotel has a rooftop terrace with bar, restaurant and pool. You may try their oenotherapy too.
Creation, Walker Bay, South Africa
Clinching the 10th position and adjudged the Best Vineyard in Africa 2021, this winner is located in the wine-making region known as Hemel-en-Aarde (&lsquoheaven and earth&rsquo in Afrikaans). The region is not only known for its wines but also its natural beauty. The first harvest at Creation took place in 2006. You have plenty of opportunities here, with wine pairing options including canapés, brunch, chocolate, afternoon tea and a six-course tapas menu exploring the grounds which showcase works of art, hiking and cycling safaris, etc.
The full list from 2021 is here.
Note With inputs from World&rsquos Best Vineyards website