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Grapes from other countries vs. grapes from your own country

You’ve probably heard the phrase “native grapes,” but what exactly does it mean? What about the “international grapes” – what exactly are they? We’ll give you the dirt in this blog article.

The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) states:

  • There are over 10,000 different wine grape varietals.
  • Six thousand belong to the Vitis vinifera (excellent wine) species.
  • More than a third of the world’s vineyards are planted with 13 grape types.
  • Only 33 grape types account for half of the world’s vineyards.


What are Native Grape Varieties, and What Do They Mean?

Grapes that are “native” or “indigenous” to their original location are referred to as “native” or “indigenous” varieties. These grapes create wines that are particularly different. There are about 400 grape types listed in Italy alone (although probably, lots more varieties occur in the country).

In the past several decades, there has been a global push to rehabilitate obscure, indigenous grapes, bringing back more diversity. One of the earliest was Viognier. Given how broadly they’ve been planted, it’s hard to believe Viognier was almost extinct in the 1960s. Ruchè from Piedmont, Criolla from Argentina, and Trepat from Catalonia are some more examples.

Why are native grapes becoming more popular?

The growing popularity of local grapes may be attributed to various cultural influences. There is a fresh passion for new old-world styles, production techniques, and even varietals among our present generation of winemakers and wine enthusiasts.

With a strong emphasis on localism these days, we’re seeing a lot of individuals reconnecting with their grape types and their homes! Together with the ease with which these new local varieties may be grown in their natural surroundings, these features result in fascinating wines that appeal to younger generations of wine lovers and producers.

These grape cultivars also generate lesser yields or grow in smaller numbers. This allows winemakers to experiment with and produce new boutique or novelty kinds of wine.

Re and create new boutique or novelty varieties of wine.

Using Native Grape Varieties to Restore Tradition

Many wineries, viticulturists, and regions restore local grape types as their popularity grows again.

In the Present, Restoring Old-World Vines

Miguel A. Torres of Bodega Torres, a Spanish winemaker, is one of the driving forces behind this approach. He studied viticulture in France, and when he returned to Spain in 1983, he was confident that he would find ancient vines that had survived the 19th-century phylloxera pandemic – the tiny louse that wiped out much of Europe’s vineyards. As a result, Torres sought out Catalan farmers. He instructed them to contact him if they came across any vines they couldn’t identify.

A red wine grape that was eventually identified as Garro was discovered in the mid-1980s. Its vine was examined for illness initially. It was then acclimated to numerous soil types using scientific procedures to identify best where it would thrive. After being grafted to another vine, the vine was finally planted in Conca de Barberà. The grape first appeared in the Torres’ Grans Muralles blend in 1996. So far, the business has been able to find and restore around 50 phylloxera-resistant grape varieties. One benefit of these revivals is that many of these grape types are resistant to heat and drought, which appeals to today’s winemakers trying to adapt to climate change.

Old-World Vines Are Being Preserved For The Future

Another noteworthy phenomenon taking place in France is the “Louvre of Wine.” The greatest collection of vines will be frozen by scientists from the French National Institute for Research in Agriculture, Food and the Environment. If the present popular grape varietals perish as a result of climate change, they may be regenerated in the future.

Scientists will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the vines at -320 °F (-196 °C). Future researchers want to utilize these long-lost types to discover a method to bring them back to life for wine lovers decades from now.

What are International Grape Varieties, and what do they mean?

“International varieties” or “classic varieties” are grape varieties grown in various countries. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon’s most well-known red, while the most famous white is Chardonnay. The bulk of these types is of French provenance, meaning they are endemic to some regions of France.

When the wines produced were branded as varietal wines, they earned worldwide prominence. This refers to when new-world winemakers began identifying their products as varietal wines. This was the polar opposite of what their forefathers in the ancient world accomplished. The appellation or place where the grapes were cultivated is commonly used for old-world label wines.

What Are The Most Popular Red Wine Varieties Around The World?

According to the OIV, these are the most often planted red wine grape varietals worldwide.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is a varietal of Cabernet Fran
  • Merlot
  • Syrah
  • Grenache Noir is a red wine made from the grape Grenache

What Are The Most Popular White Wine Varieties Around The World?

According to the OIV, these are the most often planted white wine grape varietals globally.

  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine made from the grape
  • Riesling

Why Are So Many International Grape Varieties Planted?

It’s all in the name.

So, what is it about foreign grapes that make them so popular?

When winemakers started labeling their wines after the varietal rather than the area, customers took notice. As a result of their popularity, several wineries began to imitate them by planting similar types and creating wines with the same name.

Marketing that works

Because they are so well-known, this was also a commercially wise decision for winemakers and wineries looking to establish themselves. Many wine enthusiasts would gladly purchase a bottle of a famous grape variety, such as Merlot. However, few individuals were interested in experimenting with a lesser-known local type.

They’re simple to grow.

Finally, many of these foreign types are more straightforward to cultivate than local kinds, which sometimes need more care. Take, for example, Cabernet Sauvignon. Because of its adaptability, this grape may be grown in various climates across the globe. Cabernet Sauvignon grows well in both cold and hot climes. As a result, wines with varying tastes and characteristics might be expected.

International Grape Varieties Don’t Always Work.

A Merlot Error

It’s vital to remember that even worldwide varieties that have shown to be successful fluctuate in and out of favor. Merlot from California is a beautiful example of this. Its hasty (and ill-advised) growth in the early 2000s increased the quantity of Merlot grapes. Unfortunately, merlot’s popularity plummeted soon after, owing to various circumstances. This included a large number of grapes available. Furthermore, Merlot’s popularity declined because of its inexpensive cost and ordinary middling flavors.

Pinot Noir is a precious wine.

Furthermore, certain types are not suited to a given environment, resulting in low-quality wine. Pinot Noir is one of these instances. Even though it is becoming more popular, it is a tricky grape to produce. It’s considerably more challenging to make excellent wine in locations where the vine doesn’t flourish (outside of its regular growing regions). As a result, while selecting grape varietals to plant, winegrowers must consider climate and terroir.

What are your thoughts on this?

Do lesser-known grape types add to the excitement of your wine journey? Or does it just add to the mystique of wine? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

And if you’re seeking new grape varietals to try, you’ve come to the correct spot. Subscribe to become a member and have new and intriguing wines sent to your home from all around the globe!

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