Friday, May 13, 2011

The Wine Grapes of Virginia

There's an interesting discussion occurring over at Drink What YOU Like regarding the Virginia Wine Board's decision to designate Viognier as the Signature Grape of Virginia. Yes, Virginia wineries craft very nice Viognier, but what I found interesting was that there is no clear idea how many of Virginia wineries actually make wine from the now signature grape. At Wine-Compass, representatives from wineries can add their portfolio and we had a decent representation from the Commonwealth. When adding a wine, the representative can also select one or more grape varieties which comprise the wine. I decided to break a personal pledge and updated the varietal information for each winery. The description and price of the wine may be outdated, but they at least, all have the varietal designations. The table below show the estimated number of wineries that use each grape variety. Each count doesn't mean a winery crafts a single varietal wine for that variety. In many cases the grape is used in a blend and a Meritage could have five grape varieties. I believe that is one reason the use of Petit Verdot is higher than I had expected. As for the Viognier, I would expect that about 90% of these are single varietals so its use is quite common in Virginia. Welcome to the signature grape.

135 Cabernet Franc
127 Chardonnay
112 Cabernet Sauvignon
106 Merlot
82 Viognier
80 Vidal Blanc
74 Petit Verdot
53 Chambourcin
38 Riesling
31 Traminette
30 Norton
27 Pinot Grigio/Gris
25 Seyval Blanc
23 Tannat
23 Pinot Noir
21 Syrah
20 Sauvignon Blanc
19 Muscat
18 Petit Manseng
17 Malbec
15 Touriga Nacional
14 Sangiovese
13 Gew├╝rztraminer
11 Concord
10 Chardonel
10 Traminer
7 Zinfandel
7 Mourvedre
7 Nebbiolo
7 Niagara
6 Mead
6 Cayuga
5 Rkatsiteli
5 Shiraz
5 Tinto Cao
4 Albarino
4 Marechal Foch
4 Johannisberg Riesling
3 Barbera
3 Chancellor
3 Tempranillo
3 Pinotage
2 Roussanne
2 Sauterne
2 Steuben
2 Symphony
2 Melomel
2 Catawba
2 Blaufrankisch
2 Alicante Bouschet
2 Cyser
2 Vignole
1 Villard Blanc
1 Villard Noir
1 Trebbiano
1 Verdejo
1 De Chaunac
1 Dornfelder
1 Fer Servadou
1 Corot Noir
1 Cynthiana
1 Grenache
1 Gruner Veltliner
1 Jurancon
1 La Crosse
1 Lemberger
1 Marsanne
1 Malvasia
1 Cascade
1 Brunello
1 Buffalo
1 Aglianico
1 Colombard
1 Mission
1 Muscat Blanc
1 Muscat Canelli
1 Muscat Ottonel
1 Optima
1 Pinot Blanc
1 Scheurebe
1 Primitivo


Frank said...

Todd - great information, thank you for pulling this together! The top two are not surprising, but the PV and Vidal Blanc are - didn't realize there was so much planted.

Dezel Quillen said...

Very good information, bro. Some of the lesser varieties actually surprise me. Grape-growers here are very adventurous. Have a great weekend.

ourgirl said...

Thank you, Todd, for posting this. As a Maryland wine grower with an interest in Vidal, it was cool to see how much acreage—and therefore, money—invested in this hybrid.

Todd M. Godbout said...

I think Vidal's high usage relates to its versatility - able to be vinified from dry to dessert sweet. Plus its tasty.

Jordan said...

This is some interesting info. I think ot get a great gauge would be to also understand vine age which is one hell of a project. Vidal showing high is not a shocker at all. There are a lot of older vines from when Vinifera was thought of as too much of a risk. I would bet Vidal as much as there is would actually be a declining number. What you might also find is that the PV number is reallly even more incredible because it is younger vines which means its plantings are that much more right now and could surpass all very quickly.

Chardonnay is at the top of every regions list. It is easy to sell and relatively easy to make a "good" wine. "Great" is a different story, but Chardonnay can be forgiving for simply marketable wine. I also assume the Cabs will eventually decline. Cab Franc is so over planted in this state it is not funny. Check what fruit is for sale every harvest and you will see a lot of Chardonnay and Cab Franc still out there. Viognier, however is simply just harder to grow and less consistent for yields so independent grower will be hesitant to plant. Hopefully not now.

Todd M. Godbout said...

Thanks for the insight Jordan. For Virginia, I'd guess that its safe to say that most of these grape inputs were actually harvested in state. I'm compiling the equivalent for Maryland and good portion of their fruit comes from California or elsewhere - even Virginia. Hope to have that list posted next week.

TNWT said...

There are now 35 Virginia Norton wine producers. Admittedly some wineries may secure their grapes from other vineyards.