Elite Escapes

10 of the world's most unusual wineries

Krisanne Fordham, CNNUpdated 23rd May 2017
(CNN) — There's certainly nothing wrong with the classic wine country experience: tours through the barrel-filled cellars, tastings overlooking the lush, rolling vineyards.
But once you've been there and done that, it might be time to try something a little -- or a lot -- less traditional.
From underwater wine cellars in Croatia to wine-tasting cabanas in Sonoma, we've handpicked 10 wineries around the globe that are taking wine tourism to a whole new level.

An underwater winery: Edivo Vina Winery, Croatia

Edivo Vina wines are aged underwater for more than a year.
Courtesy Edivo Vina
About an hour's drive from Dubrovnik, oenophiles can dive into one of the world's most unique wineries -- literally.
The newly opened Edivo Viva winery is located underwater, off the coast of Drače on the Pelješac Peninsula.
Its wines -- stored in tightly-corked amphorae -- are aged for one to two years in a sunken boat that acts as an underwater cellar.
According to the owners, the ocean's naturally cool temperature and complete silence vastly improves the quality of the wine.
Prefer to stay on dry land? Don't worry: you can grab a bottle online.
Edivo Wine Bar, Drače 18, 20246 Drače, Poluotok Pelješac, Croatia - Hrvatska; +385 91 1741 206

A gas station winery: Tank Garage Winery, Napa Valley, California

Tank Garage Winery: California lubrication.
Courtesy Tank Garage Winery
Napa Valley may have more than 400 wineries to choose from, but none of them are as cool as Tank Garage Winery.
It's built inside an abandoned 1930s gas station, and it won't let you forget it: It's decorated with old gas pumps, vintage Indian motorbikes and countless auto-related relics.
Even the tasting room pays homage to its roots: It's located inside a former auto repair garage and is aptly named the Lubrication Tank.
Design aside, the wine itself is delicious -- think crisp, citrusy whites and bold, spicy reds, packaged in vintage bottles as eclectic and quirky as the winery itself.
Tank Garage Winery, 1020 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, CA 94515; (707) 942-8265

A volcanic island winery: Bodegas El Grifo, Canary Islands

Bodegas El Grifo: surprisingly good wine country.
Courtesy Bodegas El Grifo
An arid volcanic island covered in lava isn't exactly the first place that springs to mind when you think of wine country.
But Lanzarote's lunar, jet-black landscape has been surprisingly hospitable to growing Malvasia grapes (though, admittedly, not much else).
The island's oldest and best winery is Bodegas El Grifo, established more than 200 years ago.
Here, you can explore its unusual lava gravel vineyards for yourself and sample some of its unique and award-winning Malvasia wine.
Bodegas El Grifo, LZ-30, Km 11, 35550 San Bartolomé, Las Palmas, Las Palmas, Spain; +34 928 52 40 36

A submarine winery: Sottomarino Winery, San Francisco, California

Sottomarino Winery: New life for an old submarine training vessel.
Courtesy Sottomarino Winery
Housed in an old submarine training vessel on a man-made island, Sottomarino is a winery you won't soon forget.
Guests can sip Italian wine varietals "underwater" in the USS Buttercup submarine itself, built by the navy to train submarine crews during World War II.
Besides sampling wine, guests can also admire vintage submarine parts and authentic historic markings made during the war.
Need to get some air? The top-level submarine deck offers an open-air wine tasting experience, plus spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay waterfront.
Sottomarino Winery, 400 California Ave, San Francisco, CA 94130; +1 415-967-4200

A castle winery: Chillon Castle, Switzerland

Chillon Castle, Veytaux, Switzerland
Vladimir Mucibabic
This historic castle, made famous by the writings of Lord Byron and Henry James, is one of Switzerland's most popular attractions.
But what many tourists don't know is that it has also doubled as a winery since 2011.
The castle -- flanked by three acres of lush, terraced vineyards -- turns out delicious white and red wine blends, including the excellent Clos de Chillon Grand Cru.
Beneath the castle, you'll also find an underground wine cellar with more than forty barrels (and growing).
Chillon Castle, Avenue de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland; +41 21 966 89 10

A former prison winery: MauiWine, Hawaii

MauiWine: 2,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of a volcano.
Courtesy MauiWine
Located on the slopes of the Haleakalā volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui, this winery is cool by default.
Its vineyards, located 2,000 feet above sea level, boast some of the most beautiful views on the island.
Throw in a tasting room inside a former prison -- built in the 1850s to hold inmates awaiting transportation to the larger county jail -- and you've got a wine-tasting experience unlike any other.
Jail aside, the winery is best known for its pineapple wine, made from the juice of Maui Gold pineapples.
While it's definitely worth a try, its estate wines, made from varietals like Grenache and Viognier, are outstanding and worth taking home.
MauiWine, 14815 Piilani Hwy, Kula, HI 96790; (808) 878-6058

A fishing boat winery: Vena Cava, Mexico

Vena Cava: What shall we do with the drunken sailor?
Courtesy Vena Cava
Nestled in the Guadalupe Valley -- dubbed the Napa of Mexico -- you'll find the strange and beautiful Vena Cava winery, built inside a fishing boat.
Several fishing boats, technically: Architects Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent took a handful of abandoned vessels from a nearby Ensenada port, flipped them upside down and built the winery beneath.
The watertight boat hulls keep the wines cool and dry in the desert valley heat, and the overall temperature of the winery naturally regulated.
In keeping with the theme of sustainability, all wine made at Vena Cava is completely organic and produced without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Vena Cava; Exit left near Km. 88, Valle de Guadalupe 22755, Mexico

A clifftop winery: Cantine Marisa Cuomo, Italy

Cantine Marisa Cuomo: Dive in.
Courtesy Marisa Cuomo
There may be thousands of wineries in Italy, but none are quite as dramatic as Marisa Cuomo, perched high on a cliff on the Amalfi Coast, 1,300 feet above sea level.
Unlike the rolling, lush vineyards of Tuscany or Umbria, the winery's cantilevered vines cling to the limestone cliff face overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Its wine cellar -- also carved directly into the cliff face -- is equally impressive and filled with some of southern Italy's finest white wines.
Marisa Cuomo, Via G.B. Lama, 16/18, 84010 Furore, Italy

Wine-tasting cabanas: Viansa Winery Sonoma Valley, California

Viansa: Open-air tasting in California wine country.
Krisanne Fordham
Who needs an ocean view when you can sip cold rosé in a beach-style cabana overlooking California wine country?
At Sonoma's picturesque Viansa winery, guests can skip the traditional indoor tasting experience to sit -- and sip -- in sleek, open-air cabanas decked out with plush lounge pillows.
But be warned: The cabanas are perched so high up, you'll feel as if you're floating amidst the winery's 35-acre vineyards.
Added bonus: the Italian-inspired winery has its own pizza oven, which turns out authentic wood-fired pizzas you can enjoy during or after the tasting.
Viansa Winery, 25200 Arnold Drive, Sonoma CA 95476; 800.995.4740

A monastery winery: Ruffino Santedame, Italy

Ruffino Santedame: Built on the site of a Benedictine monastry.
Courtesy Ruffino Santedame
With its cypress-lined drive and rolling vineyards, Santedame might look like your typical Tuscan winery.
But it's not: It's built on an historic Benedictine monastery and features a 15th-century chapel, the Cappella di Santedame, adorned with magnificent frescoes of the Madonna.
The wines produced here are as impressive as the winery itself: think powerful Sangioveses and bold, juicy Super Tuscans.
But what you're here for is the Santedame Chianti, the winery's excellent namesake wine. Tthe bottle even features the same Madonna fresco you'll find inside the chapel.
Santedame Estate, Conca d'Oro, Tuscany, Italy
By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. More information about cookies