The world’s most lauded viticultural destinations are steeped in time-honored traditions, a strong sense of community, and—most importantly—wines whose flavors are unique to a certain region.
That overriding sense of geography is at the heart of every bottle of Locations, a brand of expertly blended wines featuring ingredients from states and countries known for their storied wine culture (think France, Spain, Italy, California, and New Zealand). Thanks to their expansive network of growers, each bottle conveys all the history and nuance of the area from which it cultivates its grapes.
Here, we rounded up 10 under-the-radar wine regions which have been blended in five of Locations’ namesake products, putting the spotlight on their respective local winemaking skills, high-caliber grapes, and striking landscapes.
1. Ribeira Sacra, Spain
At first glance, you might mistake the vineyards of Galicia’s little-known Ribeira Sacra region for the lush hillsides of the Rhône Valley. But this ancient Roman settlement has been producing vino since the 12th century, and its dramatic landscape has birthed some of the most delicious wines on the planet.
Isolated by its rugged terrain until only recently—it’s nearly a four-hour drive east from the more renowned Rías Baixas, north of Portugal on Galicia’s western coast—the area’s mineral-rich terrain produces godello, treixadura, and albariño grapes, which are popular in white wines thanks to their crisp freshness. The region’s red wines are dominated by aromatic and floral mencía grapes, often likened to pinot noir.
2. Tenerife, Spain
The high-elevation volcanic soil that cultivates the grapes in Tenerife—the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, off the Moroccan coast—provides an ideal breeding ground for unconventional wines characterized by a smoky mineral taste, citrusy acidity, and good balance.
Vineyards here have pioneered an unusual system of braided grapevines (some as old as 300 years!) that produce rare fruit in five distinct wine appellations influenced by the island’s unique microclimates. The predominant grapes are listán negro and blanco, but lesser-known varietals include white muscatel, diego, malvasia, red baboso, vijariego, and tintilla, and the terroir is one of the world’s most unique.
3. Campania, Italy
Historically, Campania has produced forgettable table wines that earn little fanfare, but the “shin” of Italy’s boot has two big things going for it: the limestone-rich volcanic soil, which was resistant to the phylloxera that destroyed much of Europe’s viticulture in the late 19th century, and the fact that it was never replanted with international grapes, making it fertile ground for ancient varieties such as aglianico.
In regions like Irpinia, the reigning king is Taurasi, a red wine whose black cherry notes and tannins earn it the nickname “Barolo of the South,” though whites like greco di tufo and fiano di Avellino are also worth a try.
4. Sicily, Italy
Until recently, Sicily’s wine industry was focused on providing filler for light-bodied wines in Europe and beyond; its most noteworthy product was associated more with cooking than with drinking (i.e., marsala wine). But indigenous grapes are making a comeback in appellations like Vittorio and Mount Etna, where the local viticulture has been in place since as early as 4,000 BC, and the mineral-rich volcanic soil transfers strong terroir.
The superstars of the movement are tannic, fruit-forward red nero d’avola, frappato, and nerello mascalese, though the white carricante grape is also making inroads into the international wine scene.
5. Alsace, France
Many consumers are oblivious to this small wine-producing region on the German border of France, but ought to take a closer look. Nestled between the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains, the area is a storybook landscape dominated by medieval villages with colorful timber-framed houses, romantic canals, and winding cobblestone streets.
It’s also the capital of French riesling and gurwürztraminer, which tend to be drier and more acidic, aromatic, and complex than the cloyingly sweet contenders produced elsewhere. The other draw is crémant d’Alsace, a hand-harvested, tightly structured sparkling wine that is made with pinot gris grapes and is generally more affordable (though no less enjoyable) than Champagne.
6. Occitanie, France
It’s hard to imagine that the world’s largest wine-producing area is actually France’s best under-the-radar destination, but that’s true of Occitanie, a southern region formerly known as the Languedoc that grows just about every grape you can think of, from international favorites like syrah to indigenous ones like carignan.
Thanks to a viticulture that’s generally considered less stuffy than that of, say, Bordeaux, the unremarkable, mass-distributed wine produced during the First World War has been replaced over the last few decades with creative takes on traditional methods. The most interesting is the recent trend in biodynamic, certified-organic wines. And the sheer size of the region means that varietals vary widely by microclimate and soil composition, yielding an always-surprising diversity of distinctive terroirs.
7. San Luis Obispo, California
The robust cabernets and zinfandels of Paso Robles may be SoCal’s claim to fame, but a much less heralded homegrown wine scene is budding farther south in San Luis Obispo County. About 95 miles north of Santa Barbara, the cool-climate growing regions of the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys excel at producing pinot noirs and chardonnays that rival some of California’s best. Many vineyards are also experimenting with less expected (for these parts) Rhône grapes, from grenache blanc and viognier to syrah and roussanne.
Many of these remain unoaked, fermenting instead in stainless-steel vats on account of their fruit-forwardness and juicy acidity. Farther north, wineries in the sleepy villages of Cayucos, Cambria, and Morro Bay are also emerging.
8. Mendocino, California
Just an hour north of Sonoma and bordered by age-old redwood forests, Mendocino County’s vineyards have provided grapes for Napa and Sonoma wines for generations (the wine industry here dates back to the 1800s). Today, a handful of boutique operations are helping this backstage scene steal the spotlight.
The Anderson Valley is making a name for producing outstanding red fruit-flavored pinot noirs and Alsatian-style aromatics that are bright and crisp. Even more exciting is the creativity with which these bottles are being produced; from dry farming to foot treading, everything is fair game.
9. Martinborough, New Zealand
Just across the Cooke Strait from the South Island powerhouse region of Marlborough, which produces two-thirds of New Zealand’s wine, the Wairarapa offers a complex red alternative to the country’s cult of sauvignon blanc.
Pinot noir grapes thrive in the dry climate, and the rugged landscape’s low humidity and extreme temperature shifts create ideal conditions for structured tannins, age-friendly red-fruit flavors, and herbal notes. A focus on sustainability and organic farming principles also set this region apart, as do the strong sense of community and the close-range, bike-able vineyards.
10. Nelson, New Zealand
South Island’s most vibrant artistic scene also happens to be its most unsung viticultural destination. Secluded from the large-scale operations of their now well-established neighbors in Marlborough, the family-run, boutique-style vineyards of the Nelson region—bordered on three sides by mountains and the pristine waters of Tasman Bay—enjoy some of the country’s sunniest days, perfect for pinot noir and chardonnay, as well as aromatic grapes like riesling, chenin blanc, albariño, pinot gris, and gurwürztraminer.