We’re familiar with the World’s Best Bars and Restaurants, but like a fine wine, we’ve had to be patient to discover which winery offers the best visitor experience – and where we can find the perfect expression of a vintage and a vine.
But as Andrew Reed, founder of the World’s Best Vineyards awards, points out: “All good things come to those who wait.”
Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco has won the inaugural World’s Best Vineyard award, which was announced at London’s Banqueting House.
The Mendoza based winner was awarded the prestigious accolade by a voting academy from around the world, and the winners were selected from more than 1,500 nominated wineries.
South American wineries dominated the top 10, with Bodega Garzón taking second place, Argentina’s Catena Zapata in fifth and Chile’s Montes and Clos Apalta Winery, in joint sixth.
In total, 17 countries were represented in the top 50, including classic wine producing countries as well as emerging wine producing regions (the UK’s Ridgeview came 36th), highlighting how the New World has clasped the Old World concept of wine tourism.
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“There’s so much more to a winery visit than just going to look at the wine and taste it. Some of these wineries are absolute destinations in their own right,” says Reed.
“They’ve got amazing hotels, fantastic spas, incredible experiences around the vineyard, you can even make your own wine. I think it’s a really clever way of embracing consumer interest, because as we all know, everyone loves to tell a story… ‘Here’s the wine I made six months ago when I was on holiday in Argentina,’ – that’s a really powerful message.”
Here’s what you can expect on a visit to the top trio…
1. Zuccardi Valle de Uco, Argentina
“We put a lot of passion into what we do and believe in the expression of the terroirs that we have, the different types of soils and characteristics of the grapes which we try to show through the wines,” says José Alberto Zuccardi, managing director, Zuccardi Valle de Uco.
“And then you have the good experience which you can share with the typical food of Argentina. The scenery’s fantastic, you have the Andes which are magnificent, and it’s not just the place. It’s the people and when you visit us, the feeling is of a real family.
“We’re all very passionate. My older son is passionate about wine, my younger son is passionate about olive oil and my daughter is passionate about hospitality.”
2. Bodega Garzón, Uruguay
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A cooling Atlantic Ocean breeze kisses this vineyard, which is 160m above sea level. Its 120-seat restaurant, overseen by award-winning chef Frances Mallman, promises open-flame cooking, plus you can go on tours round the vineyard in a tractor-drawn wagon and access a plethora of award-winning wines (tannat is Uruguay’s signature red grape). They can also whisk you to the restaurant’s private terrace where you can tie the knot.
3. R López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, SA, Spain
In at number three, the Best Vineyard in Europe is renowned for the length of maturation time it allows its Riojas before their release. Their labyrinth will have you travelling back in time and yet, this Medieval masterpiece has continued to move with the times, expanding with each generation of winemakers. Their flagship red, Viña Tondonia Reserva 2006 (£34.50, Berry Bros & Rudd) has been cited as still tasting fresh, and a reflection of the quality of the vineyard.
- Press Association