Archive for the ‘Grape Varieties’ Category


Aglianico is a black grape grown in the Basilicata and Campania regions of Italy. The grape has also recently been planted in Australia, Texas and California, as it thrives in predominantly sunny climates. Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, endowing them with good aging potential. The rich flavors of the wine make it appropriate for pairing with rich meats such as lamb.


California’s signature grape variety is also Amador County’s specialty, representing over two-thirds of the county’s 3,330 acres of bearing vines. The region’s old, dry-farmed, low-yielding hillside vines, most head-trained and on their own roots, produce robust, full-bodied, spicy zinfandels with ripe blackberry and plum fruit, cedar, clove and anise spice, and hints of raisin and cocoa. Zinfandels from Shenandoah Valley tend to be riper and earthier than Fiddletown zins, which display brighter, more cherry-like fruit tones. Amador zinfandels are versatile food wines especially well-matched with hearty dishes such as grilled red meats, tomato-sauce pastas, and flavorful cheeses.


Viognier (French pronunciation: ​[viɔɲje]) is a white wine grape. Both California and Australia now have significant amounts of land devoted to the Viognier grape. Viognier wines are well known for their floral aromas, due to terpenes, which are also found in Muscat and Riesling wines. There are also many other powerful flower and fruit aromas which can be perceived in these wines depending on where they were grown, the weather conditions and how old the vines were. The highly aromatic and fruit forward nature of the grape allows Viognier to pair well with spicy foods


Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. It grows best at relatively high altitudes, but it also can tolerate a much warmer climate. Tempranillo wines are ruby red in colour, while aromas and flavours can include berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herbs.


Renowned in France’s Rhône Valley and in Australia (where it’s known as Shiraz), syrah is a rising star throughout California, including Amador County. In cooler regions, the grape yields wines with a firm structure and aromas of blackberry, violets, white pepper and roasting meat, while in warmer regions like Amador, the wines have a fleshier texture, riper black fruit and spice aromas, and plump, rich flavors with supple tannins. Syrah is delicious with grilled meats, steak, roast beef and lamb.

Sauvignon Blanc

Many Amador County wineries make excellent sauvignon blanc, a crisp, zesty, medium-bodied white wine with bright citrus and melon fruit often accented with herbal tones. Because Amador is a warm growing region, its sauvignon blancs tend more toward the citrus/melon end of the spectrum, with little overt herbaceousness, and make a fine accompaniment to simply prepared seafood and poultry dishes.


Sangiovese is the noble grape of Italy’s famed winegrowing region of Tuscany, where it produces the red wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Virtually unknown in California before the 1990s, it is now planted throughout the state. With myriad clonal variations, a propensity to crop heavily, and a tendency toward hard tannins, sangiovese must be managed carefully in both the vineyard and winery. When it is, the grape can produce lovely, medium-bodied red wines boasting complex plum, cherry, dried flower, and Asian spice aromas. Sangiovese’s bright, red-fruit flavors are well-suited to herb-marinated grilled chicken and simply prepared beef and lamb dishes.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio (also known as Pinot gris) is a white wine grape variety. The wines produced from this grape vary in colour from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. The Pinot gris from California is often called Pinot grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy. In California, the Pinot gris are more light bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste with some pepper and arugula notes.

Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah (also known as Durif) is a variety of red wine grape primarily grown in Australia, California, France, and Israel.  The “petite” in the name of this grape refers to the size of its berries and not the vine, which is particularly vigorous. Petite Sirah produces dark, inky colored wines that are relatively acidic, with firm texture and mouth feel; the bouquet has herbal and black pepper overtones, and typically offers flavors of blue fruit, black fruit, plums, and especially blueberries.


Mourvèdre (also known as Mataró or Monastrell) is a red wine grape variety that is grown in many regions around the world including the Rhône and Provence regions of France, the Valencia and Jumilla denominaciones de origen of Spain, California and Washington State and the Australian regions of South Australia and New South Wales, as well as South Africa.[1] In addition to making red varietal wines, Mourvèdre is a prominent component in “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre) blends. The variety is also used to make rosé and port-style fortified wines.

The variety can be a difficult grape to grow, preferring “its face in the hot sun and its feet in the water” meaning that it needs very warm weather, a low leaf-to-fruit ratio but adequate water or irrigation to produce intensely flavored fruit that is not overly jammy or herbaceous.