Dubai sommelier picks her top five vineyard areas for tourists
Avli by Tashas’ Annika Vorster highlights five picturesque wine regions that make ideal getaways…
Annika Vorster, senior sommelier at Avli By Tashas restaurant in DIFC, has previously worked at Zuma Abu Dhabi, and The Arts Club Dubai. After travelling the globe fulfilling her passion for wine, she’s highlighted five picturesque wine regions that make ideal getaways. “I’ve chosen some lesser known places that I think are off the beaten track for wine,” explains Vorster, 26.
It may not be marketed as a wine tourism destination, but Greece has a rich history of wine production and makes wines that are known for their dryness and minerality. Santorini is a quaint, romantic island that’s dry and windy, so only the assyrtiko grape can grow there. Grape vines are folded and grown in a sort of nest shape; they can’t stand upright because the wind is so strong that it would destroy them. The reputation of Greek wine has been having a resurgence since the late 1990s and is now so popular that the wine producers can’t keep up with the demand.
This country also has a rich history of wine making thanks to the soils that are some of the oldest in the world. There are around 250 wineries lying within 50kms of each other in Cape Town, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Constantia in Cape Town has lovely old Dutch gabled manors, sprawling lawns, as well as picturesque views of the mountains and the ocean – it’s absolutely breathtaking. The ocean breeze here brings a lovely saltiness to the white wine. Stellenbosch, meanwhile, has a warmer climate because it’s surrounded by mountains and is known for Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. All three places offer incredible gastronomy, the food is sourced locally, it’s delicious and really affordable.
It’s no secret that Spanish wines are hugely popular. In La Rioja in northern Spain they produce intense, full bodied, dry wines focussed on the Tempranillo grape. This region is easily reachable from Madrid, it has lots of very old villages and churches to explore, it’s green, very beautiful, and has the river Duero running through it. It’s warm and sunny, not expensive and very Spanish – this is the area to visit for a wine tasting holiday in Spain.
Georgia is an interesting place that not many people know about for its wine. Actually, the oldest proof of wine making was found in Georgia, it pre-dates biblical times, so it’s officially the oldest wine producing country in the world. It’s very green, the Kazbeki mountain range is incredibly beautiful but not many people speak English here so it’s not touristy. The south-eastern region Kakheti is the place to go for a wine tasting holiday, but there are also lakes, waterfalls, skiing, hiking and lots of other outdoor activities for the adventurous type.
The famous region in France is about three hours north of Paris, and has so much history that dates back to the Cistercian monks and the 11th century. It’s a very beautiful part of France with amazing old architecture. Champagne making is a very complex wine making procedure that requires a lot of hard labour and patience. It takes a minimum of three years resting time before the Champagne can leave the cellar. From a tourism perspective, French wineries are very welcoming to visitors and wine makers are always keen to explain their craft.
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