Wine Regions That Haven’t Been Ruined by Tourism

·Managing Editor

Want to taste some unique French wines? Head to the island of Corsica instead of Provence. (Photo: Thinkstock)

We’ve all heard of Napa, Sonoma, Provence, and Tuscany. They’re beautiful and their wines are nothing to scoff at. They also happen to be packed with tourists almost year-round. So where do you go these days for an oenophile’s dream vacation without all of the crowds? We asked an expert, Kermit Lynch.

I’d never really paid much mind to the fine print on bottles of wine, but something made me curious about a bottle of Domaine de la Grand des Peres at the St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. I scoured the label and came across Lynch’s name. The hotel general manager explained to me that Lynch is something of a legend in the wine world, known for a discerning palate and for discovering delicious vintages in some unlikely places. The author of Adventures on the Wine Route, Lynch has also won the James Beard Foundation's Wine Professional of the Year award.

This was the man who could tell me where to go wine tasting off the beaten track. 

Lynch doesn’t do California wines even though his wine shop is in Berkeley, in the northern part of the state, just a stone’s throw from Napa and Sonoma. He concentrates instead on Italy and France and describes his wine lover’s journey as “following [his] nose.”

“I wanted to find things that pleased me. I decided to go incredibly deep into one or two places rather than scatter myself all over the Earth,” he told me.

Lynch is a natural storyteller, and for him, knowing the story behind a wine makes it that much richer. 

So whether you’re heading out on a specific wine trip or visiting France and Italy as a tourist with a day here and there for some tastings, these are the spots Lynch recommends you visit.


If you’re planning a summer wine trip (in any month but August), you should consider heading to Corsica for its wine. 

Of course wineries get tourists there, but they get them from Italy and France. They aren’t spoiled. You can knock on any of the winemakers’ doors and ask if you can taste the wine, Lynch says. “You show up at these places that never get visitors and you will be so well-received.” 

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Up and down the western coast of Corsica are tucked away little vineyards. The landscape looks like something off a travel magazine cover, craggy and mountainous. Check out Domaine Maestracci near Calvi, Domaine Comte Abbatucci near Ajaccio (stay for lunch at their adorable little restaurant in the hills), and Clos Canarelli close to Figari. The pink granite outcroppings and wild scrub brush there produce a grape that makes the “king” of Corsican wines, the Clos Canarelli Carcaghjolu Neru Vin de France.

The Loire Valley

Muscadet is not considered a sexy wine until you pair it with a plate of oysters.

The region that produces the simple white wine, close to where the Loire river empties into the Atlantic, never gets its due as a place for tourists to visit, but Lynch thinks that is a mistake. 

Rent a car and carve out your own wine route here. (Photo: Thinkstock)

“Work your way slowly around the town of Nantes to visit these tiny wineries where people have never met an American,” Lynch says. “There are no tour buses here. It is simply another world. When you go there and off the beaten path, you enter the reality of wine making, far away from the marketing and publicity that end up making wines fashionable in the United States.”

Related: Why Arizona Is the New Wine Country


You can go wine tasting practically anywhere on this southern Italian island, traveling down dirt roads, up and over mountains, and down into lush green valleys that you never expected to find in such an arid climate. 

Related: Underrated Wine Routes Around the World

The high altitudes coupled with plentiful sunlight make this island a robust wine-making region. And though Europeans know about this gem, it has yet to become overrun by American tourists, particularly in the countryside well away from Palermo, where dialect overpowers Italian, and restaurant menus are written by hand each morning. 

The volcanic ash of Mt. Etna in Sicily provides intense flavor to the region’s wines. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Focus on the smaller wineries around Marsala and Siracusa before heading east to the fertile volcanic soils surrounding Mount Etna. Follow the handwritten wooden signs to find tiny family vineyards.

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