Sure, a great glass of wine tastes just as good whether you’re sitting on your couch in pajamas or dining at a Michelin star restaurant. But the most memorable way to experience it is right where it was made. And yet, all vineyards aren’t created equal. On July 8, a group of roughly 500 wine aficionados, sommeliers, and luxury travel experts announced its inaugural World’s Best Vineyards list. This new ranking of the top 50 wineries around the world reflects not only the quality of the wine at each vineyard but also the entire experience, including its architecture, restaurant, staff, and the view. While vineyards in famous wine regions like Bordeaux and Napa are included here, there are also many surprises in places like Lebanon, England, and Canada.
The number one spot went to Zuccardi Valle de Uco in Argentina’s Uco Valley, located about 40 miles south of Mendoza in the foothills of the Andes. Mendoza is one of the best-known wine capitals in the world, but the Zuccardi Valle de Uco winery is a standout there and “one of the most impressive on the planet,” according to the judges for many reasons. First and foremost, the Zuccardi family has been producing terroir-driven wine—mostly malbecs—here since the 1960s with the region’s cool, high altitude (about 3,600 feet above sea level) in mind. According to third-generation winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi, his winery’s aim is “not to seek perfect wines, but those which express the region.”
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But what is great wine without an equally impressive view? Set against the Andes Mountains and alongside the Tunuyan River, the winery was constructed to blend into the natural landscape. Constructed from rocks, sand, and water sourced from the area, the winery also features slatted windows to let natural light in and a steel dome that is home to one of the two tasting rooms. To round out the experience, the Zuccardi family opened the Piedra Infinita restaurant on site in 2016. With 50 seats, the restaurant is open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday and serves a four-course meal made with local ingredients.
To determine the rankings—and to fairly represent the global wine scene—16 regional chairs from The Academy, as the group of experts calls themselves, recruited 36 individuals from each area to nominate their seven favorite vineyards (up to three from their region and at least four from outside their region). While European vineyards dominated the list with 23 spots in the top 50, South American wineries took three of the top five spots. Second place went to Bodega Garzon in Uruguay, which has a restaurant with a Francis Mallmann–designed menu and is the first LEED certified winery outside North America. Fifth place went to Bodega Catena Zapata, another winery in Mendoza that is credited for pioneering Argentine malbec.
Surprisingly, only one spot in the entire list went to an Italian winery, and French wineries don’t appear on the list until the 16th place. California wine fans will also be surprised to see only two U.S. wineries made the list—Robert Mondavi Winery and Opus One, both located in Napa, which ranked 12 and 19, respectively.
The top 25 of the World’s Best Vineyards
1. Zuccardi Valle de Uco, Uco Valley, Argentina
2. Bodega Garzon, Maldonado, Uruguay
3. R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, S.A., Rioja, Spain
4. Quinta do Crasto, Douro, Portugal
5. Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina
= 6. Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile
= 6. Clos Apalta Winery, Colchagua Valley, Chile
8. Rippon, Central Otago, New Zealand
9. Marques de Riscal, Rioja, Spain
10. Weingut Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Germany
11. Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
12. Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa, USA
13. Penfolds Magill Estate, Adelaide Hills, Australia
14. Vina VIK, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
15. Weingut Tement, Styria, Austria
16. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Bordeaux, France
17. Vina Errazuriz, Aconcagua Valley, Chile
18. Antinori nel Chianti Classico, Chianti, Italy
= 19. Opus One Winery, Napa, USA
= 19. Domane Wachau eGen, Wachau, Austria
21. Schloss Johannisberg, Rheingau, Germany
22. Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux, France
23. Vina Viu Manent, Colchagua Valley, Chile
24. Vivanco. Bodega, Fundacion, Experiencias, Rioja, Spain
25. Bodega Colome, Salta, Argentina
To see the full top 50, visit worldsbestvineyards.com.