29 destinations to visit in 2009
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Uruguay( Claudia Capos / For The Times )
Place: Uruguay's wine country
Why it's a hot ticket for 2009: Uruguay's emergence as a wine tourism destination and exporter of fine wines is no accident. Since the late 1980s, vintners in this nation of more than 3 million people -- a population far outnumbered by cows -- have been replacing Muscat and Labrusca grapes used for locally consumed jug wines with the more worldly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Merlot and their best-kept secret, Tannat.
Atlantic breezes keep the Juanicó region's vines well-ventilated despite the moist, subtropical coastal climate, and the combination of well-drained clay soil and 220 days of intense sunshine annually produces growing conditions similar to those of France's Bordeaux region.
On the whole, Uruguayan wines have a lower alcohol content and are often described as "softer and more approachable" than their French cousins. Read more on Uruguay's wine region.
Information: www.vino-uruguay.com and www.winesofuruguay.com.
-- Claudia Capos
Pictured: Juanicó Winery