In the world of wine, there are traditional places for making wine – like France’s Bordeaux or Burgundy – and then there are more offbeat locations. Some wine enthusiasts have chosen to take up the gauntlet and grow wine in amazing places. Here, we introduce you to seven unlikely wine regions.
La Geria in the Canaries
La Geria valley, in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, is renowned for its dry lava soils, and yet it is also home to vineyards.
This small miracle of nature is made possible by the use of a unique technique for planting vines. Each vine is planted individually in a wide, deep hole – three metres deep and up to five metres wide. To protect the vines from the wind, circular walls called Zocos are built.
Despite this, rainfall is a rare occurrence in this part of the Canaries and wine production remains limited. Most of the wines are exported to Spain and the neighbouring islands.
Experiments carried out in the atoll of Rangiroa in French Polynesia proved to be successful.
In 1997, three hectares of vines were planted in amongst the coconut trees. As incredible as it might seem, and despite the very unusual climate, vines can be grown.
The vineyards of Polynesia produce white wine and an excellent sweet wine.
There are two harvests now per vintage, producing 30,000 bottles a year.
Another unique feature is that the grapes are transported off the island by canoe to be fermented elsewhere.
Chateau de Loei in Thailand
The first vines were planted in Thailand by Dr Chaijudh Karnasuta, a Thai national passionate about winegrowing.
In 1991, he decided to plant a vineyard in the North of the country, on the uplands of Phu Rua.
It was a tall order because of the monsoon rains. Dampness is the source of many vine diseases so ways around them had to be found by preparing the vines as best as possible. Since then, Chateau de Loei has produced wines from Syrah, Chenin blanc, Malaga and Pokdum. It is still the largest vineyard in Thailand with an area under vine in excess of eighty hectares.
The Telemark vineyard in Norway
The most northerly vineyard in the world is located in Norway. Planted in 2007, the vines at Lerkekasa winery defy all the laws of nature.
Located two hours from Oslo, the commercial vineyard of Lerkekasa boasts an unrivalled location opposite Lake Norsjø where the temperatures are milder and the surrounding hills and mountains afford the vines protection.
A lot of tests were needed to ascertain the cultivars most likely to grow at this latitude (59 degrees latitude North).
Three vine varieties proved to be suitable – Rondo, Leon Millot and Solaris. The latter variety is a hybrid known to be resistant to frost and some diseases.
However, it should be added that climate change had a hand in making this possible.
Red Mountain winery
Frenchman François Raynal chose the valley of Inle Lake in Myanmar as the location for his vineyard at an elevation of over 1,000 metres.
The primary hurdle here is the tropical climate, which is why, for this exotic vineyard to be able to produce wine, a system had to be introduced.
Several cultivars were trialled. The most conclusive results were obtained with Syrah, Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Muscat.
The Himalayas, too, have become home to vineyards
A thirty-hectare vineyard has been planted in the Himalayas at between 2,200 and 2,600 metres above sea level. Tests are still ongoing and the first bottles have yet to be released
A vineyard in the heart of the Israeli desert
Negev vineyard, created from the ground up in the South of Israel, is located in the midst of a desert. Once again, ingenuity was required to adapt to weather constraints. The chosen solution is a system of computer-assisted drip-feed irrigation.