The announcement came at a ceremony at Schloss Johannisberg (no34), in Rheingau, Germany, last night. The countdown was a mixture of a real-life ceremony and digital film to showcase the world’s best and most unique vineyards.
The stunning Bodegas de los Herederos del Marques de Riscal in Spain’s Rioja region climbed four places to number two on the list, taking the title of Best Vineyard in Europe ahead of Bordeaux’s Chateau Margaux – which climbed 19 places to third spot.
The 2021 Top 50 list features 16 countries and includes two first-time entrants from Russia and four wineries in Lebanon.
The list, which aims to highlight the sheer diversity across both established and emerging wine tourism destinations, is voted by an ‘academy’ of more than 500 global wine and travel experts. This year saw 10 new destinations in the Top 50 with Karam Wines in Lebanon becoming the highest new entry at no14. Karam Wines also claimed the title of Best Vineyard in Asia.
The two new Russian entries are both family businesses from the country’s contemporary winemaking hub of Krasnodar, abutting the Black Sea. The Sikory Winery, founded in 2012 by Alexander Sikorsky, entered the list at no20, and Lefkadia Valley, founded in 2007 by Mikhail Nikolaev, came in at no23.
What I like about the tour at Sikory is that it takes you up into the forests and mountains, to a bell-shaped chapel and observation deck giving an overview of the land, before descending into the 47.3ha of vines and the terraced plots where the indigenous Krasnostop Zolotovsky grape grows. The tour then takes you into the modern winery (above), with interiors designed by Sikorsky’s elder daughter, Yulia. Inside the winery are a laboratory, fermentation workshop, stainless steel maturation hall and a cellar where the wines are matured in varying sizes of oak barrels and concrete globes. The circular tasting room peers down onto the cellar through a glass floor, with panoramic views of the Semigorye Valley.
Lefkadia Valley, in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, has a Museum of Wine illuminating the vast viticultural history of the region back to the time of Greek kings Dionysius and Mithridates, with ancient amphorae, utensils, distillers, grafting machines, presses and corkscrews on view. The estate, one of eight in the group, also has a restored Temple of Vesta (a white stone rotunda to the goddess of the home), a ‘Bridge of Longevity’ leading to an island in a lake, and an 11-roomed guesthouse, designed in a minimalist Tuscan style (a nod to the nearby town of Krymsk – dubbed the Russian Tuscany).
Portugal has also emerged as an outstanding wine tourism destination, with seven entries – four new – in the Top 50. Quinta do Crasto (no16), Quinta do Noval (no29) and Quinta do Bomfim (no38) have now been joined by Quinta da Aveleda (no19), Soalheiro (no27), Quinta do Vallado (no49) and Quinta do Infantado (no50). This means Portugal and Chile are tied at the top for the number of wineries on the list – seven each – leading Argentina by one. Then there are three countries with four wine estates apiece on the list: France, Spain and Lebanon.
At the ceremony, Andrew Reed – who came up with the idea for World’s Best Vineyards – pointed out that “wine tourism is hugely important to the global economy and local economies, creating jobs directly at the wineries but also encouraging visitors to the area and the associated revenue which that generates. This is more important than ever with the recent global situation, and we know that by shining the light on wine tourism as we do with the World’s Best Vineyards the message gets out to more people to come and discover the uniqueness of wine and where it is made”.
This year’s event was held in association with Wines of Germany. The association’s Steffen Schindler commented: “Wine tourism has become a very important economic pillar for many of our wine estates, and we know that the most loyal customers are those that have come to our estates and our wine regions in person.”
‘The most loyal customers are those that have come to our estates’
1 Zuccardi Valle de Uco, Argentina (Best in South America)
2021 Top 50 results
2 Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal, Spain (Best in Europe)
3 Château Margaux, France
4 Bodega Garzón, Uruguay
5 Montes, Chile
6 Antinori nel Chianti Classico, Italy
7 Catena Zapata, Argentina
8 VIK Winery, Chile
9 González Byass – Bodegas Tio Pepe, Spain
10 Creation, South Africa (Best in Africa)
11 Craggy Range, New Zealand (Best in Australasia)
12 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, France
13 Champagne Taittinger, France
14 Karam Wines, Lebanon (Best in Asia)
15 Rippon, New Zealand
16 Quinta do Crasto, Portugal
17 Clos Apalta, Chile
18 Trapiche, Argentina
19 Quinta da Aveleda, Portugal
20 Sikory Winery, Russia
21 Chateau Oumsiyat, Lebanon
22 Domäne Wachau, Austria
23 Lefkadia Valley, Russia
24 El Enemigo Wines, Argentina
25 Henschke, Australia
26 Familia Torres – Pacs del Penedès, Spain
27 Soalheiro, Portugal
28 Viña Santa Rita, Chile
29 Quinta do Noval, Portugal
30 Delaire Graff Estate, South Africa
31 d'Arenberg, Australia
32 Abadía Retuerta, Spain
33 Château Mercian Mariko Winery, Japan
34 Schloss Johannisberg, Germany
35 Bodega Colomé, Argentina
36 Château Mouton Rothschild, France
37 Penfolds Magill Estate, Australia
38 Quinta do Bomfim, Portugal
39 Château Héritage, Lebanon
40 Robert Mondavi Winery, United States (Best in North America)
41 Viña Casas del Bosque, Chile
42 SuperUco, Argentina
43 Bodegas RE, Chile
44 Klein Constantia Winery, South Africa
45 Viu Manent, Chile
46 Weingut Dr. Loosen, Germany
47 Ridge Vineyards – Monte Bello, United States
48 Château Cana, Lebanon
49 Quinta do Vallado, Portugal
50 Quinta do Infantado, Portugal