Austrian Wines Find a Home in California

In times of old, the mention of Grüner Veltliner or Blaufränkisch… even Riesling, would result in a sideways glance from the majority of people, a gloss of the eyes, and a response of, “I’ll have the Chardonnay.” But if there’s any testament to the fact that Austrian varieties have become a mainstay on any worthwhile wine list, it’s that there are now copycats of our varieties all over the world.

We don’t say “copycats” in the negative sense of the term… after all, imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? So whilst “international varieties” have 2014-07-11 22.20.02been gaining a generic rap for being, well, internationally grown… winemakers are looking toward the “unusual” and finding a new home for our native grapes.

The jury is still out on these wines… many are super small production and very much still discovering their roots – what’s that best soil, elevation, and
temperature? Are they aiming to taste like the Austrian examples that have been the only example for several years… or is there an additional face to those shown on our native soil that might be appropriate for the variety?

Our recent pop-up heuriger in Santa Barbara’s Buellton exposed us to more than we even thought existed, though. Winemakers from Paso Robles and Santa Barbara shared their expressions of Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Blaufrankisch with us… and it’s no secret there are more. The Wine Blogger’s Conference we attended featured a panel of Santa Barbara winemakers and they weren’t shy to mention Grüner Veltliner is developing a foot- (shall we say root-?) hold in the area.

We had the pleasure of tasting a few of these… we’ll admit, overall we liked them. But we’re interested to see how they develop and how the domestic (that is, US) market receives them from their own soil.

Wines we had the chance to try on our recent trip included Solminer Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, Wild Horse Blaufränkisch, and Tatomer Grüner Veltliner… all great examples of the grape(s).

So what do you think of these new examples? Have you had many? Share with us!


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Categories: Austrian wines


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3 Comments on “Austrian Wines Find a Home in California”

  1. July 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    In addition to all our Austrian favs, we try every example of California Gruner we can get. All have a wide variety of how “traditional” they feel. Winemakers in California have historically experimented with the “old world” grapes they are growing and we are no different. The love for the grape is rooted in Austria so we want to honor that with a certain flavor profile. Such is the life of our family half Californian and half Austrian :) Cheers! Anna and David deLaski Solminer Wine Company

  2. July 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    You definitely need to try Von Strasser’s Gruner Veltliner from Diamond Mountain in Napa!! The only California Gruner that comes the closest to Austrian styles!! Excellent!!

    • July 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      We will definitely seek that one out! Thanks for the tip!

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