Wine Regions: Where Does Wine Come From?


Where does wine come from, and where DID wine come from? You might think you're making an educated guess if you think of France or Italy, but it was neither! Wine has an unexpected homeland. 

Current evidence implies that wine originated in West Asia, specifically Caucasus Mountains, Zagros Mountains, Euphrates River Valley, and Southeastern Anatolia. This is a large area that spans the modern-day nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, northern Iran, and eastern Turkey.

Ancient wine production dates back to 6,000 BC and 4,000 BC. From what historians can tell, the Shulaveri-Shomu people were thought to be the earliest producers of wine. This dates back to the Stone Age (also known as the neolithic period), when people used volcanic rock for tools, raised livestock like cattle and pigs, and most importantly, grew grapes. 

Every year, we discover more and more countries that are starting to produce wine. There are winemakers in Germany, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Oregon, USA... you name it! Today, there are even vineyards in the Gobi desert. Although there are various up-and-coming wine regions, ten countries are responsible for making eighty percent of the world's wine. Which wine is the best wine? Well, that's up to you.

Top Wine Regions In The World

Italy

Italy's wine history dates back more than four thousand years. Its climate is perfectly suited for viticulture. Therefore, Italy is one of the most diverse winemaking countries in the world. By the time Greeks first made their way to southern Italy, wine was well established in everyday life. Greeks were incredibly impressed by Itay's ability to cultivate wine easily, so much so, they named the country Oenotria, meaning the land of wine.

In 2018, Italy was responsible for 19 percent of the global production of wine, ahead of wine producers in France (17 percent) and Spain (15 percent). Today, Italy is second to France in wine production, but this is likely due to its reducing production by seven percent since 2007. 

The major grapes grown in Italy include, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Merlot, Trebbiano Toscano, Nero d’Avola, Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and Prosecco. 

California

No matter where you are in California, North, South, or Central California, there are terrific wineries everywhere, which explains why California is responsible for 90 percent of the United States' wine production. There are tons of sub-regions, from Napa to Temecula, with some of the best tasting rooms in the United States. Still, there are wineries across the vast country, like Willamette Valley in Oregon or the Hudson Valley in New York. The primary grape varietals grown in California include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc. 

Napa Valley

Napa Valley's wine country is recognized as one of the world's most prolific wine regions. The region received its AVA, short for American Viticultural Area, in 1981, which made it California's first ava and the United State's second overall. 

Sonoma County

Located in Northern California, the Sonoma Valley wine region has many distinguished winemaking areas like Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. Sonoma city is home to the 19th-century Mission San Francisco Solano and the central, colonial-era Sonoma Plaza.

France

Ah, French wine. From Beaujolais to Provence, France's production of wine dates a long time. Many presume that Romans brought the practice of viticulture to what is now modern-day France. Like other European countries under Roman rule, when Rome fell, and barbarian tribes invaded, red wines and white wines were already firmly established as a trading commodity and a part of everyday life.

Like Italy, France has reduced its production since 2007, an 11 percent reduction to be exact. However, the French still competes with the Italians as the number one producer of wine. 

France is known best for the following grapes: Merlot, Grenache, Riesling, Trebbiano Toscano, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

Bordeaux

Bordeaux, a region in France, is synonymous with quality and history in the wine world. Without a doubt, Bordeaux is one of the most famous Old World wine-producing regions in our world. Today, it has become a trendy tourist destination due to its wine. It has recently become so famous and popular; a wine amusement park was created to celebrate the region's wines and create additional motivation for travelers to visit.  

Within the Bordeaux region, there are several sub-appellations. Two significant areas are commonly referred to as Left and Right bank that is split in two by the Gironde River. Makers on both the left and right banks produce white, red, and sweet wines. 

Bordeaux's left bank is better known due to the producers being centuries old and still in existence. They are known for producing some of the world's finest and most expensive red blends. These producers include Chateau Margaux, Lafite, Latour, and others. The left bank typically produces Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blends, often supported by smaller concentrations of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

On the right bank, producers create craft wines that are Merlot dominant. Following, they also have smaller concentrations of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Champagne

The Champagne wine region is a region within Champagne's historic province in the northeast of France. As you probably can imagine, the area is most famous for creating the sparkling wine that bears the region's name. Due to EU laws and the laws of most countries, Champagne's term is exclusively for wines that come from this region. 

The viticultural boundaries of Champagne are established and divided into five wine-producing districts within the French historical provinces: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the economic centers of the area. 

Spain

Spain's wine history is so old; nobody is sure who brought vines to the area. But, we know that by the time the Phoenicians came around 3,000 years ago and established the cities of Cadiz and Jerez, viticulture was fully established. Spanish wines became popularly exchanged throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Spain produces less wine than its neighbors, France and Italy. However, it is home to the most extensive vineyard acreage in the world. The most well-known grapes from Spain include Tempranillo, Airén, Garnacha, Monastrell, and Bobal. 

Portugal

Portugal is best known for its Port wine: a dessert wine that is high in alcohol and is created by blending several different grape varieties. In addition to Port, Portugal is also known for the following grapes: Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Alvarinho, and Arinto. 

South Africa

Long known and celebrated for its Chenin Blanc, South Africa is also renowned for its enormous volume of Brandy production. In addition to both Chenin Blanc and Brandy, South Africa's significant grapes include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, and Chardonnay.