Grüner Veltliner (pronounced GREW-nuhr Felt-LEEN-ehr) is an ancient white grape varietal indigenous to Austria, literally meaning “green Veltliner” in German. We are excited to be able to feature a Grüner Veltliner in our Wine of the Month Club and, possibly, introduce you to your new favorite varietal! It has been traced back to Roman times and DNA testing has confirmed that it came into existence from a natural crossing of the Savagnin varietal with a later-found, single, unnamed grape vine which was given the name St. Georgener-Rebe meaning “St. Georgen-vine”. It has also been linked to other varietals such as Rogipfler and Pinot Noir but surprisingly, there is no evidence that it is related to other Veltliner strains such has Grauer Veltliner, Roter Veltliner, or Frühroter Veltliner.
Primarily grown in Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, vineyards in Italy, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have also taken on cultivating the Grüner Veltliner varietal. The light, fresh flavors similar to Chardonnay but with the added minerality of a Riesling, have propelled this exotic grape to new heights while spreading across the United States from New York to California. It has proven to enjoy the growing conditions throughout Oregon and regions in California such as Napa Valley, Monterey and the Santa Ynez Valley AVA’s.
Grüner Veltliner produces grapes that are small, yellow-green in appearance and have relatively high yields from each vintage. It is a fairly delicate vine that is susceptible to a variety of mildews and rust mite infestations (who enjoy eating grape leaves) but it can be grown in a range of soil types which ultimately affects characteristics portrayed in the wines. For example in southern Austria, Grüner Veltliner bottlings can be more full-bodied and portray fruity, peach flavors while northern Austria tends to produce a fresh, acidic and crisp version of the varietal. Other areas in Austria as well as around the world can produce dry, complex Grüner Veltliners with pepper, citrus and a light fruitiness with notes of spices. These wines can age well and will develop flavors and aromas similar to those of aged Burgundies.
Given its long heritage it is not surprising that winegrowers choose Grüner Veltliner for their vineyards, which has also accelerated in quality throughout the years. Being a food-friendly wine, it is creeping its way onto many restaurant wine lists - and rightfully so! If it is still in stock you should try the award-winning Fiddlehead 2014 Grüner Veltliner from the Santa Ynez Valley featured our monthly Gold Wine Club. Enjoy!