From the depths of the caldera of a recently active volcano and up nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere we won’t try to grow wine. After spending thousands of years planting vines and transporting finished wine around the world, the places you’ll find wine growing today will surprise you. We highlight 11 of the most extremely located vineyards in the world.
Lanzarote La Geria Vineyard
Growing grapes in the Lanzarote La Geria vineyard in the Canary Islands is quite the challenge: Soil? How about lava fields and sand. Winds? We’re on an island in the Atlantic here. And, oh yeah, it rarely rains. To get wine to grow – and they manage to produce a couple million liters annually – the vines are planted in wide, deep pits that both collect rainwater and provide some protection against the winds.
Domaine Dominique Auroy (Vin De Tahiti)
Over 5,000 kilometers from the nearest continent, winemaker Dominique Auroy has been growing wine on the coral soils of a Tahitian atoll with imported rootstocks since the early ’90s. The vines, now producing over 40,000 bottles per year, grow 100 yards from the atoll’s lagoon, and less than 400 yards from the Pacific Ocean itself.
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Domaine Royal de Jarras
While the sandy sea-fronting soils of the vineyards of Camargue in the Languedoc protected the native vines from phylloxera, that’s just the beginning of this unique wine-growing area. While critics often note hints of salinity when reviewing wines grown near salt-water coasts, Domaine Royal de Jarras’ marsh-like vineyards actually spend a month per year partially underwater.
Lerkekåsa Vineyard is the northernmost commercial vineyard in the world, located in Telemark, Norway (59°40′N; 09°19′E). They’ve been growing grapes since 2008! Check out their website to learn about visiting; you can stay overnight, learn a bit about making wine, and of course sample some of their vintages.
Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant
Going even farther north takes us to the experimental vineyard at the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland (61°14′N; 21°26′E). According to Wikipedia: “The residual heat in the cooling water (at 13 °C) is utilized for small-scale agriculture before being pumped back to the sea. The power plant hosts the northernmost vineyard in the world, a 0.1 ha experimental plot that yields 850 kg of Zilga grapes annually.”
Winemakers have been harvesting grapes at Bodega Colomé for centuries, but what makes this bodega especially unique is the altitude of its highest vineyard ‘Altura Máxima,’ which soars above all others on this planet at over 3,000 meters above sea level. The facility is now owned by Swiss wine mogul Donald Hess.
Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery
Setting the ethical issues aside of a visit to a Myanmar, Red Mountain Estate is one of a number of vineyards attracting the type of tourist looking to go way off the beaten path. Just watch out for the snakes!
Viñedos Don Leo
Viñedos Don Leo, another extreme altitude vineyard (2,000 + meters above sea level), is located in a valley in Parras, Mexico. The first vines were planted back in 2000, and have grown to about 35 ‘trying to be organic’ hectares.
The ancient Egyptians were growing, importing and trading wine many millennia ago. Production in the country today is meager, due to decades of military rule followed by the recent revolutions. Karim Hwaidak owns Sahara Vineyards, which, with the aid of irrigation, produces a Viognier, a Chenin Blanc, and a Blanc de Noirs (Grenache Blanc). The vineyard facility is located outside of the ancient city of Luxor.
Associação dos Agricultores de Chã
The 1,000 or so residents of a volcanic crater on Fogo, a central Atlantic island in the archipeligo of Cape Verde, collaboratively own a number of unlikely vineyards, which have been producing wine for local consumption (and export!) for over 100 years.
Other photos courtesy of the vineyards’ websites.