Posters, Maps, and More

A simpler way to learn about wine.
Shop Wine Folly

4 Unbelievable Wine Regions

August 17, 2012 Blog » Learn About Wine » 4 Unbelievable Wine Regions


Kent Vineyards, England Wineries, Sussex England by flickr user fras

Not Napa. This scene can be found in England. by flickr user fras

Wine was forced onto England by the Roman Empire. By the Norman Invasion in the 11th century, vineyards were commonplace. In the early 1500’s there were 139 active vineyards, 11 of which were owned by King Henry the 8th. The echos of this era can be seen around London in areas such as Vine Street and The Vineyards.

Wine From England

It’s cold, wet and gray in England and many crops fail to ripen. Cool climate varieties like Madeline Angevine, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are popular, although some wineries keep trying Cabernet Franc. With all the classic Champagne varieties growing in UK fields, Brits have developed their own version of bubbly. The Bolney Estate in Sussex has received several awards for their classically inspired sparkling wine.

Pico Island, Azores, Portugal

pico island portugal aerial picture by andresrueda

Pico Island is a Unesco Historic Area. Photo by andresrueda

An untouched piece of viticulture history lies in the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. The volcanic island of Pico is home to a massive man-made rock labyrinth created during the 1400’s. The intricate network of thousands of 5-foot rock walls protect tiny plots of Verdehlo vines. The wine made from grapes grown in the labyrinths is called Pico Verdehlo and was treasured by Czars and nobles in Europe for centuries. The area is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, supposedly the last one in existence.
pico island vineyards portugal

A UNESCO World Heritage site

An Ancient Wine Treasured by Czars

The volcanic island has extremely poor soil and is mostly covered with basalt rocks. The stone walls offer protection from ocean winds and salt spray. The plots are tiny and hold only a few vines with thin openings for vineyard workers to go through. The people of Pico have removed international disease-resistant varieties in favor of Verdelho, Arinto, Terrantez, Boal and Fernão Pires; the common grapes from 500 years ago. These wines are hard to find, but you might have some luck looking for the following regions: Pico, Biscoitos and Graciosa.

Gobi Desert, China

Gobi Desert Aerial view of China Vineyards

Picture copyright Steveiearn

The Gobi Desert is the last place on earth anyone would expect a wine region. With only 6-8 inches of rain a year, vineyards must get water from the nearby Yellow River. Despite the lack of water, the greatest challenge in the Gobi Desert is surviving the winter. Farmers must bury vines underground to protect them from deep freeze. Because of the desolate conditions, the vineyards don’t suffer from disease or rot, making it easy for wineries like Chateau Hansen to produce organic Chinese wines.

click for large image. Chateau Hansen

Wine in China Predates Western Civilization

China’s wine history dates back to long before all of Western Europe. The oldest fermented beverage in the world was found in the Yellow River basin around 6000-7000 BCE and contained rice, honey and hawthorne fruit and/or grapes. The China wine industry is growing rapidly and already has 11 distinct wine growing regions containing hundreds of indigenous Chinese grape varieties.

Nashik, India

Wine From India. Winery Sula in Nashik. photo by pagastesi

Indian winery in Nashik, just East of Mumbai. photo by pagastesi

Strict Hindus avoid meat, mushrooms, garlic, tea and alcohol. The rest of India does drink wine and the current market is 2 times bigger than in 2009. India cuisine is famous for pairing perfectly with off-dry white wines such as Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris.
india nashik sula vineyards bottling Indian wine

the goal is high quality reds. credit chiragnd

Where in India are They Making Wine?

The epicenter of Indian wine production is around the city of Nashik, which is 100 miles northeast of Mumbai. The climate in Nashik is similar to parts of California, Australia and Spain. Table grapes are already commonly grown here and there are now a growing number of wineries. Check out Sula Winery and Vallee de Vin for more.

About Nashik Climate from Sula Winery India –
What Vineyards to Visit in India –
About China Wine Regions – Chateau Hansen
UNESCO World Heritage Pico Island Photos


By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards. Find me at @WineFolly