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Been dreaming of a wine-themed holiday, but dreading the expenses associated with regions like Napa Valley? Why not search further afield for your wine adventures? A wine getaway, as long as you´re willing to plan ahead and turn your nose toward the less well-known wine regions of the world, can be surprisingly cheap. The regions offer lower prices, fewer crowds, and surprisingly excellent and unique wines. Here are a few suggestions for the budget-minded traveler and wine enthusiast.
Starting with the Phoenicians and the Romans in antiquity, Moroccan wine production reached its peak under French colonialism in the first half of the 20th century. After independence in 1956 and the re-instatement of the Alaouite Dynasty, wine cultivation was "tabled" in favor of cereal or edible fruits, and what remained was, frankly, not very drinkable.
However, since the 1990s there has been a resurgence of the winemaker’s art, centered mainly in the ancient imperial capital cities of Meknes and Fez, with formidable results. Considered by many to have the best climate in North Africa for viniculture, Moroccan wine production is 75 percent red, and the producers favor blends over single varietals. Prices for good wines range from $7 and up, with the best value found around $15 to $20.
Today, the winemakers have begun to bring home important awards from Europe, and wine tourism is just beginning to blossom. Hotel prices vary throughout the country, from a few dollars in a pension to hundreds for restored palaces, though for $20 a night, you can expect to stay in style everywhere but Casablanca. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/ryangs)
Tours in the Moroccan wine regions can be arranged through the large white grands taxis, which can be found in every big city. They seat up to six people but don’t leave until full, unless you rent the whole car — expect to bargain hard. Alternately, many of the newer craft wineries can arrange a van for a customized tour.
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