Travel writers share favorite local wines and wineries

We asked members of the International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Association to share a favorite wine and/or winery that is close to home, wherever that may be. It’s always fun to travel to other wine destinations, but there are often wonderful wines to sample and enjoy in our home state, province, or region.

Enjoy virtually visiting wineries representing nine U.S. states, a Canadian province, as well as Italy and Thailand, then share your favorite local wine in the comments. Cheers!


(alphabetical by state)

Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Wilcox, Arizona

Joeann Fossland, Joeanns View

© Joeann Fossland

In Southeastern Arizona, the town of Wilcox is home to a robust wine growing region with over 15 vineyards surrounding the town. Just an hour and a half away from Tucson, it’s a great day trip to visit the wine tasting rooms.

My favorite is Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, located on just 21 acres. Planted in 2004, Rod Keeling and Janice Schaefer built a home, have tended the fields, and are producing hundreds of cases of fine wines today.

My very favorite wine, Keeling Brothers Shiraz is made from imported vines from Australia. At 15% alcohol content, this dark, smooth wine relaxes me immediately.

My second favorite, Three Sisters Syrah, has won lots of awards. You’ll taste black currant and dark berry fruit characteristics in both of these wines.

© Joeann Fossland

If you’d like to try some, they ship to most states, most of the time. I’ll bet you hadn’t thought of Arizona for fine wine. Now you know!





Mangus by Arizona Stronghold, Cottonwood, Arizona

Stacey Wittig, UnstoppableStaceyTravel

Mangus by Arizona Stronghold is a full-bodied red wine, blended of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese right in my backyard in Arizona’s Verde Valley. (The Verde Valley’s best-known destination is Sedona.) Arizona Stronghold winemakers use only Arizona grapes grown in the Verde Valley and in Wilcox, Arizona.

The winery takes its name from Cochise Stronghold in southeastern Arizona, a rock labyrinth near Willcox, Arizona. It was from there that Chief Cochise defended the homeland of his people, the Chiricahua Apache from 1852 – 1872. Today the area east of Cochise Stronghold produces the majority of the grapes grown in Arizona.

Mangas was Cochise’s father-in-law and a fierce defender and peacemaker. The fruit-forward wine named after him is always consistent.  I would compare this wine to a Super Tuscan, which are are typically super tanic. But the complexity of Arizona-grown grapes makes Mangus more approachable, even as a young wine.

Arizona Stronghold is currently holding wine shipments until the fall because hot Arizona summer temps are not kind to transporting wine. But you can place your order now at

Altipiano Vineyard and Winery, Escondido, California

Noreen Kompanik

Some of Altipiano’s Award-Winning Wines     © Noreen Kompanik

Perched high above San Diego’s San Pasqual Valley, views from Altipiano’s Mediterranean tasting room and grounds are nothing short of spectacular. It was a trip to Southern Tuscany and Montepulciano, Italy that inspired owners Denise and Peter Clarke’s love for Italian wines. Denise is Altipiano’s multi-award-winning winemaker and her reds, especially the Super Tuscan blend and Sangiovese are without a doubt the superstars of this winery.


Denise and Peter Clarke in the Vineyards. © Noreen-Kompanik

Visitors can taste Altipiano’s fine wines in the tasting bar, or our favorite, the colorful patio overlooking terraced garden and vineyards with some of the most glorious San Diego sunset views. The wines are phenomenal, and we’re sure they taste even better surrounded by nature’s magnificent bounty.


Thomas T Thomas Vineyards, Philo, California

Therese Iknoian,

Thomas T Thomas in his vineyard. © Therese Iknoian

Thomas T Thomas was never much of a wine drinker – most of what he tasted for so long was (in his words) “nasty.” Then somebody served him a Merlot with a steak, and the lightbulb went on. “I could taste the flavors,” he said, casting a gaze across his 3-acre hilltop vineyard in Anderson Valley, California. As a corporate finance guy, painter and jazz musician, his intense attention to detail became laser-focused on wine. Thomas started reading, researching and tasting, becoming ever more fascinated with the complexities of wine. But it wasn’t until a trip to France’s Burgundy region in 1999 that he decided he wanted to create the atmosphere and the experience he found in France right in Northern California.

A couple of years later he found his dream parcel in Mendocino County. His first Thomas T Thomas wine came from the 2017 vintage (after having sold his grapes to others for a few years). His Pinot Noirs are deep, velvety, full of fruit, and without the tannin that had made wine to him “nasty” a few years prior. “I want to be excellent,” he says of his passion. “I don’t want to be a black winemaker. No, I’m a winemaker.” Thomas T Thomas wines – with his own art on the label – are available online. When visited in spring 2021, he was finishing construction of a by-appointment tasting room at his Philo vineyard. Find out more about Anderson Valley and its wines here in this HI Travel Tales story.

Acquiesce Winery, Lodi, California

Wendy VanHatten, Travels and Escapes

Acquiesce Bourboulenc\ © Wendy VanHatten

I love Rhone style white wines, which can be hard to find in the U.S. It was surprising to find this style in Lodi, California, where Acquiesce Winery creates these in small batches. Their 10.5 acre farm grows only Rhone style varietals with vines sourced from Chateau do Beaucastel of Chateauneuf du Pape, France.

Lodi’s sandy soils and Mediterranean climate is perfect for these vines. Grapes are hand picked, hand sorted, and whole cluster pressed.

My two favorites, although that varies from day to day, are Picpoul Blanc and Bourboulenc. Both are easy to drink by the pool yet stand up to most foods.

2019 Matt Parish Louie’s Block Old Vine Zinfandel, Contra Costa, California

Elizabeth Smith, ElizabethSmithConsulting

Matt Parish Louie’s Block Old Vine Zinfandel – ©Luiz da Silva

Many years ago, acclaimed international winemaker Matt Parish tasted a Zinfandel whose grapes came from the Del Barba Vineyard in Oakley, California, the lesser known Contra Costa AVA. He was so impressed that shortly thereafter, he arranged a visit with fourth-generation farmer, Tom Del Barba. This historic vineyard’s survival against the area’s urban sprawl of housing developments and roads inspired Matt. He and Tom identified a small parcel of old vines named after Tom’s uncle Louie because it was his favorite. The vines are over 125 years old, classically head trained, and planted in the deep Oakley sands.


©Luiz da Silva

The 2019 Matt Parish Louie’s Block Old Vine Zinfandel is the second release, the first being the 93+ rated 2018 vintage. Matt makes the wine from these hand-harvested grapes in a traditional California winemaking style to elevate the refinement and intensity of the block’s majestic vines. Aged in a mix of new and used barriques for 14 months, this robust Zinfandel is dark, dense, and intense. If patient enough, one may cellar this wine two to five years. If drinking now, one should decant it a short while and serve it at cellar temperatures, around 58F. Matt’s suggested meal pairings include hearty fare like barbecue, brisket, pork, or steak. This rich taste of history is the quintessential summer cookout wine and it available nationwide exclusively through Naked Wines USA.

Liquid Farm White Hill Chardonnay, Los Olivos, California

Cori Solomon, Written Palette

Liquid Farm wines © Cori Solomon

I am very particular about my Chardonnay. I don’t like most California Chardonnay because it is too oaky and what I call overly done. I favor a Burgundian style Chardonnay.  The year was either 2010 or 2011 when I was at a wine tasting in West Los Angeles, and as I was tasting wine, a man approached me and asked, “Would you like to taste my wine? It is not bottled yet, but I would love your opinion.” Well, it wowed me, and that wine was the 2009 Liquid Farm White Hill Chardonnay. It has the essence of a Burgundian Chardonnay, but it is created in the Sta. Rita Hills. The White Hill Chardonnay reminds me of a Chablis.

I have been following Jeff Nelson, owner of Liquid Farm, winemaker James Sparks, and Corky the Liquid Farm mascot ever since that first day of sampling the wine – from Jeff’s home in West Los Angeles to a tasting in Beverly Hills and now to his tasting room in Los Olivos. When I first started sipping their wines, they only made Chardonnay. They added Rosé, a Provencal style wine, also known as “pink crack,” and after swearing they would never make Pinot Noir, they now produce some excellent Pinot Noir.

Europa Village Monastrell, Temecula, California

Linda Milks, ToastingFoodWineTravel

© Linda Milks

Talking about a very special and tasty wine, this 2017 Monastrell (also known as Mouvedre) is a big, bold wine with tannins that give you a big mouthfeel. You taste lots of dark fruits in it, too, like blueberries and blackberries. It pairs perfectly with umami dishes like those that are savory or meaty. It’s great with Parmesan cheese, too, as well as earthy mushrooms.

Europa Village is located in Temecula, California. It is a village with the plan of having three villages making up the winery. Currently, there is Bolero Winery, a Spanish village with a restaurant of authentic tapas and paella dishes. There are also 10 casitas where guests can stay. Plans are to have a French village called C’est La Vie and an Italian Village called Vienza, yet to be completed.

This premium wine can be purchased online at Europa Village Bolero 2017 Monastrell for $55.00. If you go to Europa Village and you are lucky, you will have Whitney as your wine server.

San Sebastian Winery and Carrera Wine Cellar, St. Augustine, Florida

Diane Dobry, Getting Hungary

Carrera Wine Cellar © Diane Dobry

As a former wine importer, I was curious when moving to Florida to find out whether there was a thriving wine industry there. I heard some talk about blueberry wines, but later learned that Florida does not have agricultural regions of viticulture. Grapes grown in the state are limited to a few small vineyards, mostly in the north, where Muscadine and hybrid bunch grapes are the primary source for wine production and are known to be disease resistant and good in warm climates.

On two separate visits to St. Augustine, I checked out two wineries. The first is San Sebastian Winery on King Street on the outskirts of downtown St. Augustine, which gets their Muscadine grapes from Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont, Florida. The winery also owns property in the panhandle where they grow red Noble and bronze Carlos and Welder Muscadines. They offer winery tours and tastings daily, including a walk through the production facility with talks about the tank storage and bottling processes. . The upstairs tasting room showcases a number of reds, whites, rosés, port and sherry wines. I bought the Sherry wine, especially for cooking mushroom-based dishes.

Another winery to put on your list is Carrera Wine Cellar on San Marco Avenue, voted to St. Augustine Best Wine List for 2020. The staff provides educational tastings and flights and encourages guests to try before they buy using their Enomatic Wine Sampling Machine that pours small tastes of a variety of their wines. The shop holds classes and has a game area and a quiet patio for customers at the wine bar. While they do not ship wines, they do deliver locally and offer home wine tasting and party packages.

Oliver Winery, Bloomington, Indiana

Debbra Dunning Brouillette, Tropical Travel Girl

© Oliver Winery, Bloomington, IN

While Indiana may not be well-known as a wine destination, Oliver Winery, located near Bloomington, is one of the largest wineries in the U.S. Its hilltop location in the Indiana Uplands AVA is situated on the same latitude as California’s Napa Valley.

Oliver Winery started as a hobby of Indiana University law professor William Oliver in the 1960s and opened to the public in 1972. Its original best-seller, Camelot Mead, has become the #1 selling honey wine in the U.S., but today the winery produces wines for every palate – from semi-sweet to dry, including dessert and sparkling wines. Oliver wines are now available in 40 states and counting!

© Oliver Winery’s Pinot Grigio

I have chosen its 2020 Pinot Grigio as a favorite selection from my home state of Indiana. It received a Gold – Best in Class in the 2015 Indy International Wine Competition. The 2020 vintage uses sourced grapes from the San Bernabe Vineyards in Monterey, CA. Its fruit-forward peach and citrus notes combine with a crispness that is refreshing and just the right combination for my nightly happy hours with cheese, crackers and grapes.

If you are in the Bloomington, Indiana, vicinity, visit the Tasting Room, open daily. Plan your visit here.

Rosewood Winery and Wine Cellar, Pawnee Rock, Kansas

Amy Piper, Follow the Piper

Rosewood Wine Cellar © Amy Piper
© Amy Piper

Located near the center of the United States, far from Napa and Sonoma, you’ll find Rosewood Winery on Rosewood Ranch, in Pawnee Rock, Kansas. Rosewood is the only winery in the nation to offer employment opportunities to persons with developmental disabilities. The ranch and winery offer programs and services that allow individuals to explore various living options in a safe, nurturing, and appropriately challenging atmosphere.

The ranch’s vineyard grows grapes used in limited small-batch wines; while others come from California grapes. The winery offers over 33 wines, all named for memorable horses on Rosewood Ranch. You’ll find wines with fun names, like the gold medal-winning blackberry cabernet called “Boots Made for Walking.” Or “Rooster Jaguar,” named for a precious therapy horse on the ranch. The wine is sweet with a light body, tangy with sweet blueberries that combines with cherry and the spice characteristics of the Pinot Noir grape.

If you’re looking for reasons to go to Kansas, add Rosewood Wine to your list. In Great Bend, Rosewood Wine Cellar offers tastings, but you can find Rosewood Wine at these retail wine locations throughout the state.

Remy Wines, Dayton, Oregon

Valerie Estelle Rogers

© Valerie Estelle Rogers

When one is raised up in a burgeoning wine region, it’s natural to learn to swim in those waters, the waters of wine vines and French oak barrels. Remy Drabkin grew up in McMinnville, Oregon in the heart of the Northern Willamette Valley. By the time she graduated high school she had amassed quality time developing her skills under the great legends of the valley. Fast forward two decades and Drabkin has solidified her footprint as a respected and award-winning winemaker.

Enjoy an authentic wine tasting experience at the farmhouse, where, in the land of Pinot Noir, you’ll find something different, Italian varietals! Dolcetto, Legrein, Nebbiolo, and her version of a “Super Tuscan” made up of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Carmenere, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Lagrein, will make you dream of Italy. She makes delicious Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Rosé, too! Be sure to ask about the story behind her Three Wives label; it has to do with her parents, some friends, and a trip to Alaska.

When a local grows up and gives back to their community in the amazing ways Drabkin does, everyone wins. Her warm smile and easy laugh will secure your return visit.

Remy Wines © Valerie Estelle Rogers

Remy Wines Tasting Room, 17495 NE McDougall Rd, Dayton, OR 97114

Hours 12 PM to 5 PM, every day,

Ships to 39 states – listed on the website


Dancin Vineyards, Medford, Oregon

Jo-Ann Bowen

Dancin Winery © JoAnne Bowen

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to be hosted by Travel Medford and Travel Southern Oregon to a wine tasting and lunch at Dancin Vineyards, Medford, Oregon. This is now one of my favorite Oregon Vineyards. The setting, scenery, award-winning wines, and tasty bites are a delight!

Seated on the patio by the koi pond and overlooking the vineyards and mountains, we enjoyed two wine flights. Being a red-wine lover, my favorite is the2018 Coda Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley, Dancin Vineyards Estate. My guest prefers white and her favorite was the 2018 Chaine Chardonnay, Rogue Valley. We pared the tasting with two delicious dishes: Wood Fired Olives and the Formaggio Board. Notice also the beautiful logo. All the wines are named after ballet movements.

Dancin was named by Lux Life Magazine as “the best 2019 Viticulture & Destination in the Northwest”. Wine Press Northwest named Dancin the “2017 Oregon Winery of the Year.”

You can shop online here. Personally, I can hardly wait for a return visit!

Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Buckingham, Pennsylvania

Sharon Rigney

Buckingham Valley Vineyards ©Sharon Rigney

Nestled in the green hills of Bucks County, Pennsylviania, are a handful of local wineries that offer a retreat from the business of everyday life. Buckingham Valley Vineyards is a great place to get a sampling of what the region has to offer. It’s a family run operation, Bucks County’s first winery, and one of the oldest and largest wineries in the state.

You’ll want to be sure to sample or take home a bottle of their Blackberry Sparkling Wine, which was decidedly so delicious it was selected for a James Beard Foundation annual dinner. Wines here range from dry to sweet, as well as sparkling. You can also sample or purchase everything from a rose to a white or a variety of reds. Wine slushes are also available in the summer months for a fun way to cool off. You can visit here as part of a trip through the Bucks County Wine Trail, on its own or as part of a day trip to the region.

Red Caboose Winery, Meridian, Texas

Janie Pace, JourneyMapped

Red Caboose Winery’s award-winning Tempranillo. © Janie Pace

Red Caboose Winery produces award-winning Texas wine, beer and spirits from estate-grown superior quality grapes using sustainable methods naturally by hand. The winery boasts over 60 medals at the Houston Livestock Rodeo Wine Competition, nine Best In Texas Awards at Grapefest in Grapevine, and double gold and best of show in the 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in New York, just to mention a few.

The award winning La Reina Tempranillo is a big full body red wine aged in American white oak for a minimum of 18 months, with earthy flavors and hints of smokiness. The Viognier, 2017 offers rich floral earthiness with beautifully balanced, slightly sweet flavors, and a smooth finish. The 2016 Malbec is grown in the estate vineyard, full bodied with hints of spice and fruits, medium tannins, and fresh woody characteristics, aged in American oak for 32 months.

Visit the wine tasting shop in Clifton and the Red Caboose Distillery located behind the shop for vodka, jalapeno vodka, cilantro vodka, brandy, and gin.

Eden Hill Vineyard, Celina, Texas

Sharon Kurtz, Sharon K Kurtz

Eden Hill Winery © Sharon K Kurtz

When people think of North Texas, they don’t immediately think of a grape-growing wine region–but that is changing.

One of my favorites is Eden Hill Vineyard, just an hour north of Dallas in Celina.  The award-winning, small family-run winery is led by winemaker Chris Hornbaker Eden Hill is located on ten acres of rolling prairie making world-class wines since planting the first vines in 2008. They grow a variety of warm climate grapes from Italy and Spain because the climates are very similar.

Today they sell over fifteen varieties of wine made exclusively from Texas-grown grapes, producing about 3000 cases per year. The family wishes to stay small and focus on creating high-quality wines.

They sell their wines through the tasting room, located on the vineyard property in Celina, and their online wine club, and  currently ship to California, Colorado, Florida, and Texas.

I first discovered  Eden Hill Wines in their delightful tasting room at the Dallas Farmers Market in downtown Dallas. My favorite is the Divine White 2019,  a blend of Viognier,  Albarino, Marsanne, and Orange Muscat. It’s crisp, smooth, and delicious!

Winemaker Chris and the family strive for excellence and continue to expand their offerings.

Perissos Vineyard and Winery, Burnet, Texas

Barbara Redding

Perissos Winery © Barbara Redding

My dear friend Judy Haralson introduced me to my new favorite wine – a 2016 petite sirah from Perissos Vineyard and Winery in Burnet, Texas. Judy has been a devotee of the winery almost since it opened in a modest barn in 2003.

Conveniently located within a few miles of her lovely condo overlooking Lake LBJ, the winery welcomed Judy and her many friends for wine tastings. Her visits were so frequent, in fact, that the owners practically adopted Judy as part of their growing farm family. In 2013 she returned the favor by sponsoring a row of petite sirah vines that she attentively watched over for the next several years. After the grapes were picked and the wine aged, she received 36 bottles bearing her personal label.

Judy’s wine is long gone, but the vineyard’s petite sirah grapes continue to produce wine that is crisp – with rich, black-fruit flavors, and a hint of chocolate – yet dry enough to please the palates of most red wine drinkers.

Judy’s long association with Perissos has delighted her friends, including me. I’ve shared bottles of nearly all of the winery’s red and white offerings. I’ve attended numerous tastings in the modern glass-walled tasting room that replaced the barn. I also learned about Perissos’s wine-making processes from vintner Brent Pape on a private winemaker’s tour in the winery’s huge new tank room.

But most important, I’ve found a Texas red that I love. Thank you, Judy!

(Restaurants and bars in the Texas Hill Country, including Austin, serve Perissos wines. The wine can be shipped to most states in the U.S.)

Whidbey Island Winery, Langley, Washington

Sue Frause, Eat Play Sleep

©Whidbey Island Winery
©Sue Frause

Whidbey Island Winery was one of the first wineries to open near my home in Langley, Washington. Located just outside the downtown area of Langley, Greg and Elizabeth Osenbach opened their winery in June of 1992, producing 400 cases of wine that first season. Today, the yearly total is 3,500 cases, distributed throughout Washington state.

Having enjoyed their estate grown whites along with their reds and whites from Eastern Washington, I decided it was time to pitch in and pick grapes at their annual autumn harvest. I didn’t realize what hard work it was, cutting the clusters of grapes with scissors while sitting atop an inverted plastic bucket. But in the end, all our hard work was rewarded with a grape pickers lunch set up underneath a century-old orchard overlooking the vineyard. The group lunch was served with wine, of course. My favorites? The estate-grown Madeleine Angevine 2018 and a Dolcetto 2016 from Washington’s Yakima Valley.

A number of years ago, we joined their wine club, open to U.S. residents. Club selections are offered four times a year, and may be picked up at the winery, or delivered to home or office via FedEx. It’s a great way to keep that wine cellar stocked (or in our case, a wine room in our barn) and support the local winemakers.

Whidbey Island Winery (5237 Langley Road, Langley, WA, 98260, Phone 360.221.2040) is open six days a week from 11-5 (closed Tuesdays). Tasting flights and glass/bottle pours may be enjoyed outdoors on the front patio or lawn.



Bench 1775 Winery, Penticton, British Columbia

Michelle Fedosoff

© Michelle Fedosoff

Bench 1775 Winery is located on the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley. The first time my husband and I visited this winery, the sun was shining and bouncing off the lake. In order to comply with Covid restrictions, all wine tastings were held outside at a private barrel overlooking the view.

The six-sample testing included Pinot Gris, Post Modern Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc along with Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The first wine was light and refreshing and each wine that followed just got better and better. My favorite was the Sauvignon Blanc. This is a signature wine for Bench 1775. The grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks in batches to create a perfect wine to pair with seafood. The combination of lime, pepper, grapefruit, and gooseberry flavours combine beautifully.

I have been wine tasting in four countries but Bench 1775 provided something new. For the first time during a wine tasting, I purchased bottles of all of the wines I had sampled.

I live four hours away from this winery, but luckily, they deliver to Vancouver. If you are ever in the Okanagan, I strongly urge you to visit this winery. You will not be disappointed.



Pignoletto, the signature sparkling wine of Emilia-Romagna

Chris Cutler, Cold Pasta and Red Wine

©Chris Cutler

One of the best things about living in Italy for a few months is that I get to enjoy many of my favorite wines, most of which are not available in the US. Even if they are, finding them is like playing a game of hide-and-seek where the hider runs far away.

When I am in Bologna, I like to drink Pignoletto, the signature sparkling wine of Emilia-Romagna, the region of which Bologna is capital. Pignoletto gets its name from pigna, the Italian word for pinecone, because of its small, tight grape clusters. While some try to compare it to Prosecco, Pignoletto differs in a number of ways. First, it is a frizzante wine rather than a spumante. Frizzante wines are “gently” effervescent while Spumante wines are more bubbly.

La Mancina Pignoletto © ChrisCutler

Pignoletto is also lighter, fruitier, and fresher on the palate. The aroma varies from winery to winery, but expect a gentle floral nose of orange blossoms and, perhaps, ginger, jasmine, or peach. On the palate, Pignoletto combines citrus and green apple, making it drier and less sweet than Prosecco. Try Pignoletto with a plate of prosciutto, salami, Pecorino Romano cheese, bread, and olives.



Cantine Strappellum – An ancient grape gets a new twist in Basilicata, Italy

Valerie Fortney-Schneider

Nibbio Bianco ©Valerie Schneider

When Roman naturalist author Pliny wrote his Natural History, aglianico was already so ingrained in the soil and on the tables that he called it an indigenous red grape varietal. Considered one of the oldest varietals in Italy, it arrived in Basilicata with Greek colonists in the 7th century BC. The name probably derives from those settlers who were smart enough to bring seeds and plant vineyards – Ellenico, or “of the Greeks.”  There is no doubt it has been here a very, very long time and that aglianico has done well in the mineral-infused volcanic soil below Monte Vulture.

But one Basilicata winery is giving a new twist to that ancient grape. Cantine Strappellum is worth some attention because in a region where the attention all goes to the reds, this winery takes that aglianico grape and produces exceptional whites from it. The Nibbio Bianco is golden, highly aromatic of white fruits and minerals, and well structured. After the crush it is separated from the skins and filtered, and fermented in steel. It spends 12 months in oak barrels and then nine months refining in the bottle. The tingly Millesimato sparkling white has budding flowers and pulpy fruit bouquet and is notable. (Of course, their reds are laudable; the Tenute Piano Regio DOCG Aglianico del Vulture recently won a gold medal at Italy’s National Wine Expo.)

The Nibbio Bianco and other vintages from Cantine Strapellum can be ordered directly from the winery, or request your local importer to source it for you.


Monsoon Valley’s 2014 Signature Red

Michael Cullen

©Michael Cullen
©Michael Cullen

Monsoon Valley’s 2014 Signature Red is an absolute favourite from my local vineyard. When bestowing it 93 points and a Gold medal in the 2019 Asian Wine Review Awards, judges described this blend of Dornfelder, Rondo and Shiraz as having “a rich colour, complex nose of lifted fruits, charred oak and a hint of earthiness.” With fine structural tannins, moderate fruit weight, and some nice berry fruit flavours on the palate, they classified it as well-balanced wine with a good finish. International wine critic James Suckling awarded this vintage 92 points.

Monsoon Valley Vineyards sits in the foothills of the Tenasserim Range, which divide Myanmar and Thailand on the Thai-Malay peninsula. Just 35 km west of Thailand’s Royal Resort town of Hua Hin, the vineyard is Thailand’s most extensive, with 110 hectares under vine. Its proximity to the sea means it enjoys a nightly cooling breeze, while the sandy and loamy soil enriched with seashells and fossils lend the wines their characteristic flavours and freshness. Harvest season lasts from February to March.

The vineyard was founded in 2001 by Chalerm Yoovidhya, co-owner and heir to Red Bull fortune. This wine-loving entrepreneur has sought to build a wine culture in his home country of Thailand. Monsoon Valley Vineyard produces 300 tons of grapes and over 300,000 bottles per year, with 30% exported (including Europe, Japan, and Australia). New York State-based beverage company Gasko & Meyers have the distribution rights for Monsoon Valley wines in the U.S.

I find the Monsoon Valley’s 2014 Signature Red a perfect partner to stir-fried beef with oyster sauce, a spicy Thai beef salad, or, more simply, a quality tenderloin steak. If on the U.S. east coast, seek it out at quality Thai restaurants or the distributor.


What are your favorite local/regional wines? Leave a comment below. Cheers!

Debbra Dunning Brouillette

Debbra Dunning Brouillette has always been a tropical girl. Like a fish out of water, she was born and raised in the Midwest, but from the age of seven, Florida vacations opened up her world to sun, sand and turquoise water. On her first Caribbean trip to Jamaica, a snorkeling excursion introduced her to an incredible new world that exists below the surface of the sea. The fish out of water was hooked. A scuba diver and avid photographer, she enjoys exploring the reefs and natural wonders, meeting the natives, and finding what makes each island unique. She also is a self-described “foodie” and enjoys savoring the food and wine wherever her travels take her. Her articles and photos have appeared in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Indulge, AAA Home & Away and Evansville Living magazines; online digital outlets, including, TravelWorld, Travelscope and; as well as her own site, She is Managing Editor for Food, Wine, Travel magazine ( and serves on the Board of Directors for International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).