The Crush.February2022 - 1

Volume 49 Issue 2 February 2022
Alternative Grape Varieties Can Address Climate, Market Trends
By Ted Rieger
Alternative grape varieties and alternative varietal wines have
been discussed and explored at many industry levels from
the vineyard to the marketplace. Examples can be found of
successful niche and smaller scale producers of such wines,
however, global, domestic and California wine production is
still dominated by a handful of varieties. In California, five
varieties: cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel
and merlot account for 65 percent of total planted winegrape
acreage as of 2020, based on the USDA National Agricultural
Statistics Service (NASS) California Grape Acreage Report. The
wine industry faces two critical challenges--climate change,
and the need to attract new and younger wine consumers to
increase sales in an overall stagnant wine market. Planting and
production of varieties better suited to changing needs can help
address these challenges.
The 2022 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium session, " Varietal
Diversity in the Golden State: Exploring Viable Climate and
Marketplace Alternatives, " focused on three that have had some
recent market traction--albarino, chenin blanc and grenache,
and included a tasting of two current releases of each varietal.
Moderator Gilian Handelman, vice president of education for
Jackson Family Wines, said, " We need more varietal diversity
in the golden state, and we need to support growers to help
diversify plantings. "
Dr. Liz Thach; wine educator, researcher, journalist and professor
at Sonoma State University; said the focus on these three varietals
was based on recent U.S. market sales data through the threetier
system from International Resources Inc. (IRI). Sales
growth for each varietal for the 52-week period ending
September 5, 2021 was: albarino--16%
in dollars and 11% in volume, chenin
blanc--7% in dollars and 3% in volume, and
grenache--11% in dollars and 5% in volume.
Varietal diversity in the Golden State tasting
Photo: Ted Rieger
Climatologist Greg Jones, CEO of his family's Abacela Vineyards
in Oregon, produces albarino and other Iberian varieties. " It's
clear that the planet is warming and this trend will continue, "
he said. Information about climate trends and forecasts in
winegrape growing regions can be found at Jones' website: www.
The viticultural, winemaking and market characteristics a grape
variety should demonstrate to meet California's future needs
include: heat tolerance, drought resistance/water efficient,
disease resistance, strong yield production, able to provide wine
style diversity, good for blending, and have an easy to pronounce
Albarino is most prominent in Spain in the Rias Baixas and
Galicia appellations where it is a popular white wine. It is known
as Alvarinho in Portugal and is a popular white wine from the
Vinho Verde appellation. More than 13,000 acres are planted

The Crush.February2022

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The Crush.February2022 - 1
The Crush.February2022 - 2
The Crush.February2022 - 3
The Crush.February2022 - 4
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