Countries

In a nutshell we have put together some bits of information about the key wine growing countries; covering the main wine regions, the main grape varietals and 'grape representations' to try. Read and enjoy, some of it may even make you chuckle!

Argentina

Argentina boasts a wealth of natural resources - areas of stunning scenic beauty from high summits and plains to lush forests, arid deserts, glaciers and waterfalls. In fact if you were to imagine any landscape, you will more than likely find it somewhere on Argentine soil. And the importance of the country’s wonderful landscape when it comes to wine making? Well, where growing grapes is concerned the conditions are ideal; the dryness, the varying altitudes, the scarce rainfall and pure melt water irrigation all contribute to the intense ... Read more.

Australia

In just 200 years, Australia’s wine industry has grown from a few small plantings to an industry renowned the world over. As far as the origins of the wine industry were concerned though it was not found in native grape varietals but rather grapes imported from Europe and much of the wine produced from these was then shipped back to the UK. The first known record of grape production in Australia dates from 1791 it was written it was recorded

“On 24th January two bunches of grapes were cut in the Governor’s garden fro... Read more.

Chile

In many ways Chile is a wine-makers paradise. Its unique combination of geography make it ideal for wine making. There is the Atacama desert to the north, the Andes, the longest mountain range in the world to the east, the Patagonia ice fields to the South and the Pacific Ocean to the West. Together all these things have climatic qualities that help to maintain healthy conditions and protect the vineyards against pest and disease. In fact, so well protected are the vineyards in Chile that the deadly phylloxera (a microscopic root insect that li... Read more.

France

When asked to summarise France and wine “Spiritual Birthplace of Wine” springs to mind. Beyond this though how on earth do you sum up?

In many ways France is in something of a difficult position when it comes to wine. On the one hand it’s not always easy to appreciate or accessible in terms of price. On the other hand though if properly understood it is often the most rewarding and there are many great French wines to be found at very accessible prices. So, with this in mind and also considering the fact that France ... Read more.

Italy

When it comes to wine in Italy you could say it’s almost as essential as eating and sleeping! So widespread are the vines that there are about one million wine producers and nearly a thousand different varieties of grapes. No wonder the mention of Italian wines gets the head spinning...

The thing is though what makes Italian wines so daunting is the organisation and classification of them. Very often it can be hard to tell whether the name of a particular wine is referring to the region or the grape variety and more often than ... Read more.

Portugal

Simplicity is always the key to better understanding the wine regions of the world. So, when it comes to Portugal’s wine regions, the best way to get your head around them is firstly to divide the country into two halves. This separates the northern regions which include Douro, Dao and Bairrada and the central southern regions including Alentejo, Ribatejo and Lisboa. The “in a nutshell” bit of northern half is that the wines tend to focus on high quality top end “terroir” wines whilst the central southern part wine... Read more.

New Zealand

Say the words New Zealand and people tend to think Sauvignon and Marlborough.  It’s no surprise though considering that nearly 60 percent of vines planted in New Zealand are Sauvignon and this varietal alone accounts for around 80% of wines exported. Like all wine producing countries though, there is so much more to it than one varietal and one wine producing region. Where New Zealand is concerned, other main grape varieties grown include: Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir…probably the second most well-known of New Zealand grap... Read more.

Spain

Over the last few years much has been written on how Spain has been struggling economically. In 2008 global restrictions on credit and the end of the Spanish property boom saw the number of businesses going into administration treble, and many wineries have been looking to avoid the same fate. The great news is though that “Spanish wines are flying” and retailers are gradually starting to give up more space to them - us included!

There is no doubt that historically the Spanish wine trade has been extremely important to the... Read more.

South Africa

It seems the South African wine industry owes a great deal to one company in particular, 'The Dutch East India Company' when back in 1652 they established a refreshment station in the Cape. The aim of this was to provide fresh food to the company’s merchant fleet on their voyages to India, but it transpired that the station provided much more than this and in fact led to a flourishing wine industry and the birth of a nation.

The first vineyard was planted in 1655 by Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck the first governor of the Cap... Read more.

USA

Where to begin with the history of wine production in the USA? Well in terms of its beginnings it is documented that the first wine from grapes native to America was made in 1609. Not a massive hit with the locals but a start. Following on from this in an attempt to improve on initial efforts vine cuttings from across Europe started to be imported and soon wines were being made from more recognised grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Once again though results were not what had been hoped for. After only a coupl... Read more.

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