This French Polynesian Island Is The Underrated Wine Destination You Need To Visit

An aerial view of French Polynesia's largest atoll will reveal strips of white sand dappled with coconut palms and, unexpectedly, a flourishing vineyard. Roughly 200 miles northeast of Tahiti, Rangiroa is a renowned Pacific hideaway that's perfect for solo travelers and honeymoon retreats. The far-flung islet is exalted for its underwater safari that beckons scuba divers from around the globe to its coral reefs. On shore, however, lies a unique emblem of Tahitian culture. 

Domaine du Domique Auroy is a vineyard that took years to develop. Located on the northwestern side of Avatoru, the vineyard only produces white and rosé wines using distinct variations of red and white grapes, including Carignan red and Muscat de Hambourg. The Pacific waters surrounding the vine stalks and the unique tropical climate influence the atoll's thriving harvest. Organic, sustainable practices ensure the island's biodiversity and soil fertility will sustain generations of Rangiroa's rich cultural heritage.

Essential elements for a thriving viticulture scene

The secret to Rangiroa's prospering viticulture scene lies in the atoll's unusual terroir and unique climate conditions. An exotic soil composition combines chalky limestone, natural vegetal compost, and shards of white coral that naturally enhance the crops. Year-round exposure to sunshine combined with an adaptive irrigation system promotes an environment for viable growth. Plowing holes in the vineyard's lowest plot creates a freshwater wellspring that quenches the vine stock. 

Unlike most vineyards whose harvest season occurs in the fall, the Polynesian grapes are harvested in both May and December, known as the austral summer and winter harvests. With no true winter season on the island, careful pruning techniques replicate the vineyard's natural dormant period, allowing the vines to restart their growth cycle and retain their healthy roots. After harvesting, the grapes are exported by canoe and later housed in French oak barrels, adding a smoky sweetness during the journey.

An unusual French Polynesian distillery

Rangiroa's fertile valleys and sweeping vistas are not only home to rows of vine shoots, but they also boast an impeccable production of sugar cane. Situated on the same land plot, the sweetness of the cane fields infuse the grapes with a rich and fruity profile. During harvesting, the sugar is blended with mature grapes to create Rangiroa's signature rum, Mana'o Rangiroa. This sweet, warm-bodied rum is produced from pure cane juice on the atoll before being distilled in Tahiti. From start to finish, harvesting the sugar cane is a beautiful and carefully curated process. The stalks are stripped by hand before the canes are crushed and fermented using organic yeast.

In addition to Rangiroa's island-inspired rum, two vintages of red and white grape varieties are harvested annually. Their Blanc de Corail is a tropical dream with notes of mango, pineapple, and banana. The complex expression is complemented well alongside seafood dishes such as fish fillets. Distilled from Muscat de Hambourg grapes, their rosé Nacarat is a mature mouthfeel with hints of melon and raspberry, perfect for serving alongside opening starters. For a taste of this exotic Polynesian wine, arrange a winery tour where you can sip a glass on the same tropical shores it's harvested.