Voyager c’est vivre: to travel is to live. We’re making this our mantra for the New Year (and new decade) to come. Here at Verve Wine, we believe there’s no better way to expand your wine knowledge than by hitting a vineyard and sipping straight from the source. Some of our favorite memories from 2019 were spent in the cellars of winemakers near and dear to our hearts, seeing where the magic happens with our own eyes.
Traveling to vineyards not only allows you to interact with the people behind the bottles, but it also assists in deepening your already acquired knowledge. Best of all, hitting top wine regions also opens the floodgates for experiencing local cultures in cities nearby. This goes far beyond just wine. We’re talking scenery, well-known attractions, and best of all, regional gastronomy. Although we have a never-ending list of regions we’d like to visit, here are our top five goals to hit in 2020.
Who says you have to leave the country to experience a world-class wine region? We can’t get enough of picturesque Santa Barbara, home to exquisite Pinot Noir Chardonnay, and Syrah as far as the eye can see. Located along the Central Coast of California, this vast oceanside region is characterized by rolling hillsides and salty Pacific breezes, which lead to optimally ripened fruit. We recommend staying in the small city center, dining at Bibi Ji, and catching some waves in Montecito, followed by a day trip up to the Lompoc ‘Wine Ghetto’ where our friends Rajat Parr, Sashi Moorman, and Pete Stolpman make thirst-quenching bottles from some of the region’s best vineyard sites.
As much as we love jetting off to Europe, this year, we’re vowing to visit places we’ve never been before-- and Patagonia is right at the top of our list. The region is South America’s southernmost viticultural zone and is characterized by cool, dry climate conditions and large diurnal temperature swings. Here, our good friend Piero Incisa della Rocchetta is crafting some of the most earth-driven and terroir-distinctive wines we’ve ever tasted, most of which are made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. However, 2020 has also brought some new changes to Piero’s estate. For the first time ever, Piero has crafted a juicy and thirst-quenching varietal Malbec exclusively for us at Verve Wine. We had high expectations for the bottle, and upon tasting it, we certainly were not disappointed. To get your hands on this Verve Wine X Chacra exclusive, click here.
Visiting island-based wine regions offers the best of both worlds. Spending the mornings on the beach soaking up sun, snacking on salty local seafood for lunch, and hitting world-class wineries in the afternoon is our idea of the perfect day. For a breathtaking beach/wine getaway, look no further than Sicily. This Italian island is the Mediterranean’s largest and is home to a plethora of honest, hardworking winemakers. To really experience all that this versatile island has to offer, we recommend renting a car for a week and hitting the region’s top spots. From the crystalline beaches of Agrigento and Taormina, to the smoky volcanic hillsides of Etna, to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets of Palermo, there’s really nothing that Sicily can’t do. Be sure to sip the wines of Arianna Occhipinti, Eduardo Torres Acosta, Benanti, and Girolamo Russo for a taste of our top picks.
We’ll always have a soft spot for the classics, and when it comes to French tradition, there’s really no place on earth like the Rhône Valley. This versatile region is split into two major sub-regions (Northern and Southern), each of which is marked by its own unique viticultural tradition. For the collector, connoisseur, and lovers of Syrah, the Northern Rhône is where it’s at. The region is much smaller than its southern half and is home to some of the best winemakers in the world. Climb the famed Hermitage hill, take a morning jog along the region’s namesake river, and indulge yourself in some of the local gastronomic delights, including braised beef stews, hearty gratins, and a slew of pungent cheeses. For access to Mediterranean beaches, the lush Luberon forest, and quaint village settings perfect for sipping afternoon apéros, the Southern Rhône is just the ticket. For the best of both worlds, simply rent a car, make your winery appointments, and experience both sides of what this insanely prestigious region has to offer.
For us, the Canary Islands is the epitome of 2020 goals. We’ve been dreaming of digging our feet into the island’s ashy, volcanic soils for some time now, and this might just be the year that we actually do so. Although technically part of Spain, these tiny islands are actually located 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the coast of Africa. Known for sun-soaked days, saline-tinged breezes, and trenzado (braided) trained vines, we can’t imagine a better place to imbibe in savory Listan Blanco (otherwise known as Palomino), ashy Listan Negro, and savory Spanish tapas. When we finally touch down in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, or Lanzarote, we’ll definitely be visiting our friends at Envinate, Bodega Tajinaste, and Juan Francisco Farina Perez-- after a morning spent on the islands’ signature black sand beaches, of course. Disclaimer: Don’t be surprised if we start taking orders remotely. We may not make it back stateside.