The list, released Tuesday and available at newsstands Jan. 22, describes the area as one of “green hills dotted with wineries, hotels and restaurants” that attracts approximately 150,000 visitors per year, mostly domestic.
Indeed, Vale dos Vinhedos accounts for about 90 percent of Brazil’s fine wine production and owes its current recognition to a mass influx of Italian immigrants in the late 1800s, who transformed this corner of southern Brazil into the most important wine region in the country.
Surrounded by hills on three sides, most of the valley’s vineyards are located on gentle slopes between 450 and 650 meters (1,475 and 2,130 feet) above sea level. Longtime residents established a Wine Producers Association in 1995 to market their grapes, and, in 2001, Vale dos Vinhedos became the first Brazilian region to receive the Geographic Origin certification.
Famed British wine critic Oz Clarke visited the region last year and said Vale dos Vinhedos had “the most fantastic sparkling Muscat -- easily world-class.”
He called the bottles he had tried a pure pleasure, saying they had a higher acidity and gorgeous floral bouquet. Clarke also lauded the valley’s sparkling chardonnays and pinot noirs, saying they were “superb.”
Wine Enthusiast, too, recommends the region’s sparkling wines, which are produced in both dry and sweet styles and “are among Brazil’s more sought-after sips.”
Publisher and Editor Adam Strum said the magazine puts out its annual list to help readers further discover their passion for wine through travel.
“A glass of wine has the transcendent ability to transport your palate to a new location,” he said. “For wine lovers, there is no better way to cement that connection than to explore the world around those vineyards.”
Other destinations included on Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 itinerary include Rioja, Spain; Danube, Austria; Long Island, New York; Stellenbosch, South Africa; Monterey County, California; Willamette Valley, Oregon; Hunter Valley, New South Wales (Australia); Douro Valley, Portugal; and Puglia, Italy.
In addition to having high-quality vino, Wine Enthusiast believes each of these classic and lesser-known regions provides an established travel infrastructure and a comprehensive overall cultural experience.