A Q&A With Wine Enthusiast Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa
For the second year in a row, Wine Enthusiast magazine has released a special travel issue, which lists the 10 best wine destinations for the year. The magazine’s editors scoured the globe to find the wine regions that have the potential to provide the best travel experience in 2013. They came up with quite the list: Rioja, Spain; Danube, Austria; North & South Forks of Long Island, New York; Stellenbosch, South Africa; Monterey County, California; Vale dos Vinhedos, Brazil; Willamette Valley, Oregon; Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia; Douro Valley, Portugal; and Puglia, Italy. Jetset Extra asked executive editor Susan Kostrzewa about how she and her team chose the 2013 Top 10—and how a love of wine can translate to a love of travel.
Q: The list of the Top 10 wine destinations of 2013 appears in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s second annual travel issue. What inspired you to create a travel issue in the first place and why did you choose to continue it this year?
A: We recognize that people passionate about wine are typically passionate about cultural experiences and travel, too. Our readers seek experiences that go beyond the bottle and want to immerse themselves in the world of wine, and these destinations take them to the heart and source of that world.
Q: How did you research potential top wine destinations?
A: The editorial team meets and nominates regions, then discusses their importance based on factors such as overall cultural experience, timeliness (i.e., Is this the right time to visit this region for the traveler who wants to be in the know before everyone else?), travel infrastructure (i.e., diverse lodgings of good quality, plenty of restaurants, ease of getting around, etc), and of course, wine quality in the region produced. Though our choices are varied, they all share the common link of being fun, exciting, enlightening destinations for the discerning, wine- and food-minded traveler.
Q: What requirements did a region have to meet to be considered for your list?
A: We have the lucky challenge of there being many places in the world making wine today, and many of them are wonderful travel destinations. It’s our job to select the places each year that are current and the best places to visit right now. That will vary year to year. As far as the selection process goes, I think our basis will always stay the same: What destinations offer wine tourists the full range of experiences we know they want? Do they have great food, wine, culture, scenery, people, and a feeling of discovery?
Q: What qualities about the Top 10 destinations stood out to deem them the best for 2013?
A: The qualities included an element of discovery, a match of wine and culture,and a reflection of this year’s wine drinking trends.
Q: Were you able to visit all of the destinations that landed in the Top 10? Which one was your favorite?
A: I have been to most of the regions on our Top 10 list of wine travel destinations of 2013. It’s impossible to choose a favorite because they are phenomenal for distinctive reasons. Regions such as Stellenbosch or Brazil are all about adventure, discovery, forging a new path. In the Douro or Rioja, it’s that perfect balance of history and progression. All of the destinations are beautiful, culturally interesting, and make amazing wine.
Q: Why is it important for wine lovers to explore the area around a vineyard?
A: Physically experiencing the lay of the land, the climate, the culture, the feel of a place, plus meeting the people who craft those wines, gives you an intricate perspective of that product.
Q: For many, eating food found in a specific region helps further immerse travelers in their surroundings. Do you think wine can have the same ability?
A: Yes, wine is an organic product of the region, and a reflection of what comes straight from the soil of the area. It’s about as immersive as you can get.
Q: How can the location where wine is produced help establish its global identity?
A: The region in which a wine is made—along with its unique properties of scent, taste, and wine-pairing ability—distinguish it from the many other wines on the market. When there’s a cultural or historic story behind a wine, and it’s unique from other regions, it makes it all the more compelling to the consumer.