On the evening of Monday, July 8, London’s Banqueting House in Whitehall welcomed wine experts, foodies and travel industry insiders from around the world to the inaugural edition of the World’s Best Vineyards Awards.
It was Argentinian winery Zuccardi Valle de Uco, a family-run operation founded in 1963 and set at the foot of the Andes Mountains, which took the top spot, beating out 1,500 other nominees. In fact, South America, overall, made the strongest top-ten showing, with two wineries ranking from Argentina, two from Chile and one from Uruguay.
In total, seventeen countries were represented among the top 50, with Chile leading the pack with eight listings, with the Old World wine-producing regions of France coming in second with seven overall listings.
The nominations tended to reward an emerging breed of vineyard, where world-class architecture is represented alongside the traditional varietals and a complement of gourmet-dining options. A prime example of this trend is Spain’s Marques de Riscal winery (which came in ninth overall), with its eye-popping architectural component, created by legendary designer Frank Gehry.
The list of the top 50 global vineyards was compiled according to votes cast by members of the World’s Best Vineyards Academy, which is comprised of nearly 500 leading wine aficionados, sommeliers, and luxury travel correspondents.
While there were no preset judging criteria, Academy members looked beyond just the wines produced by each location to include the entire winery visit experience. All those aspects of a vineyard visit that should make it a rich and rewarding venture—including each site’s reputation, the view, pricing, staff, guest tours, onsite restaurants, and the overall ambiance—were taken into consideration.
Per the World’s Best Vineyards’ website, “This is not just a list of the World’s Best Vineyards, this is a list of the 50 most amazing places to taste wine and learn about winemaking.
“There are producers and places that only the wine industry knows about… until now. The diversity is incredible. There are modern architectural wonders; there are small boutique wineries. There are ancient cellars, modern restaurants, and stunning wedding venues.
“Some offer something a little different – such as a horse-drawn vintage carriage tour through the vineyard, a large collection of classic cars, a valuable art collection, mountain biking adventures, horseriding, a diamond store, an award-winning infinity pool, or open-fire dining. Take your pick!”
The Daily Mail credited the organization’s founder, Andrew Reed, with saying, ”Wine is produced in almost 60 countries around the world and is hugely important to many national economies. In the USA alone, some seventeen percent of all leisure travelers get involved in culinary and wine-related travel. The World’s Best Vineyards to Visit not only highlights these amazing destinations, but it also helps raise their profile amongst national and international tourists alike. In an age where the next generation is looking for extraordinary and authentic experiences, these wineries are simply a must-visit.”
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2019’s Top Ten Vineyards to Visit:
1. Zuccardi Valle de Uco (Argentina) *Best in South America*
2. Bodega Garzón (Uruguay)
3. R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, S.A. (Spain) *Best in Europe*
4. Quinta do Crasto (Portugal)
5. Catena Zapata (Argentina)
=6. Montes (Chile)
=6. Clos Apalta Winery (Chile)
8. Rippon (New Zealand) *Best in Australasia*
9. Marqués de Riscal (Spain)
10. Weingut Dr. Loosen (Germany)
For more information, visit WorldsBestVineyards.com.