Top 10 wine spots, none in U.S.

I realize that, on the world stage, our homeland isn’t exactly the most popular place right now. Part of it stems from eight years of political buffoonery, and a healthy dose comes from traditional “old world” bias against the United States. Like most of us, I’ve learned to adjust for a touch of this when I read international news coverage. To a certain extent, I understand it … we’re more like France than we realize. But, it’s tough when our country doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

This is especially the case for wine.

In an article detailing the top 10 wine spots in the world, Forbes deemed none in the United States worthy of the list.

1. Castello Banfi, Tuscany, Italy: not an adventurous pick for the top spot
2. Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile: trying to seem enlightened, succeeds
3. Ken Forrester, Stellenbosch, South Africa: see #2, with the same results
4. Fournier, Mendoza, Argentina: doubling up on South America in the top five? Trying too hard …
5. Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, Australia: could call for the middle of the pack
6. Felton Road, Central Otago, New Zealand: again with the doubling up …
7. Bodegas Ysios, Rioja, Spain: classic location, should probably be higher
8. Quinta do Portal, Douro Valley, Portugal: this would have been more exciting at #3 or #4
9. Chateau Lynch-Bages, Bordeaux, France: obligatory, but at #9?
10. Peter Jakob Kuhn Oestrich, Rhein/Mosel, Germany: obviously added to the list out of a sense of obligation

And, where are we? No Sonoma? No Napa? Or, a break from the norm with Oregon?

The collection of wine destinations seems to a certain extent like a Little League awards banquet. No country is on the list twice, giving the impression that the reporter sought to dish out as many trophies as possible. The wide reach, of course, makes those absent even more evident.

As you can see, the list is more likely the result of a careful analysis of balancing out different regions and meeting reader expectations than it is a genuine reflection on the most interesting wine destinations in the world.

This is why I hate “listicles”: they have less to do with the content than they do with managing perception. Blech.

To relax or invest, vineyards worth a look

Take a beating in the stock market this year? There’s nothing quite like a dose of financial abuse to make you want to disappear to wine country for a week or two. While you’re out there, though, it may pay to turn your head back to investing, if only briefly. Lease or buy a vineyard-or just hide in a villa for a weeks-with a bit of help from BeautifulPlaces.

Sorry for the reality check, but this form of therapy isn’t cheap. The BeautifulPlaces properties are upscale, and the amenities are focused on the high net worth crowd. The Napa and Sonoma Valley properties range from Tuscan estates to Provencal cottages, from Carneros to Dry Creek Valley, CA. As these lavish settings would suggest, guests typically take advantage of the certified nannies, professional photographers and in-villa spa treatments that BeautifulPlaces can arrange. If you’re inclined, get a unique tour of the night sky with the help of an astronomer.

No, I’m not joking.

Of course, if you’re hitting Napa or Sonoma, wine is on your mind. Tours, tastings and custom wine blending experiences can be arranged. Even people like me have access to these activities, though. If you’re looking for something unique, spend some time with Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein. President and wine guru of Full Circle Wine Solutions, he’ll walk you through an intricate tasting day. This “day” may start months in advance, when Goldstein talks to you about your preferences-food and wine-as well as whether you collect (or, like me, just gulp right from the box glass). When you hit the ground, Goldstein will create wine and meal pairings you won’t soon forget, especially when you’re “cooking” meals in the microwave at home.

If all this isn’t enough, and you just have to buy a vineyard, BeautifulPlaces will put you in touch with Premier Pacific Vineyards. These guys invest in and develop vineyards along the west coast. For serious financial types, this is a great way to get a foot in the door.

Head out to California wine country, but be ready to drop a few bucks along the way. It’s probably worth it. After the way the markets have treated us this year, even the rich deserve a break.