Wine Grapes & Regions

Wine Grapes & Regions Wine Grapes & Regions

Welcome to our exploration of the diverse relationships between renowned wine varieties and the places that cultivate unique expressions of their character. On this page we aim to deepen your understanding of how terroir shapes grape flavors by profiling some of the world’s most iconic grape-region pairings. You’ll travel from Burgundy to Barossa Valley learning about viticultural communities defined by wines from Pinot Noir, Malbec, Riesling and more.

We will also briefly explain the different grape varietals, and there are a LOT of them! Some you will have never heard of and others you will be very familiar with.

Whether seeking lessons on regions to visit or varieties to seek out, uncover insights on grapes tailored to soils through in-depth spotlights and recommended producers. We hope these glimpses behind the curtain of cultivated complexes inspire further conversation and contemplation of drinks poured from fruit wed to farm.

*Note: This list will continue to grow. It is our hope that we will also include maps of wine regions to go along with the education of this most fascinating adventure that is wine.

Grape Varietals

  • Albariño – A refreshing Spanish white grape producing minerally wines with citrus, peach and floral flavors ideal for seafood.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – One of the most planted reds, known for bold wines with cassis, spice and tobacco developing in Bordeaux and California.
  • Chardonnay – The world’s most ubiquitous white offering rich buttery, toasty, tropical or leaner styles depending on region from Burgundy to Australia.
  • Chenin Blanc – Chenin is wildly adaptable, yielding everything from bone dry Loire Valley versions to sweet dessert wines from South Africa.
  • Gewürztraminer – Aromatic white well-suited to Alsace where it expresses honeysuckle, lychee and rose petal notes in both dry and off-dry styles.
  • Grenache – A red blending workhorse also vinified as a standalone in regions like Spain’s Priorat, with tart red berry and herbal flavors.
  • Malbec – Argentina’s signature grape cultivated to produce rich, inky wines with cassis, chocolate and peppery spice.
  • Merlot – Softer than Cabernet, prominent in Bordeaux as well as California and Chile, known for plummy dark fruit.
  • Moscato – A delicately sweet, lightly sparkling style and flavor powerhouse bearing aromas of candied orange, peach and rose.
  • Mourvedre – A hearty, tannic grape blended for structure in bold GSM Rhone-style blends also showing potential as a solo act.
  • Nebbiolo – Backbone of Barolo and Barbaresco with elegant tannins and pronounced tar and roses aromas benefitting from extended aging.
  • Pinot Grigio – A lemony, dry white commonly grown in northern Italy though also cultivars in California delivering more body and richness.
  • Pinot Noir – A delicate yet complex grape reigning in Burgundy while also grown worldwide, most notably showcasing vibrant red fruit when cultivated in cooler climates like Oregon.
  • Riesling – A versatile white prized for minerality, bright acidity and Complexity developing in Germany’s Mosel region and across northern climes over decades.
  • Sangiovese – The treasured Tuscan grape behind Chianti Classico and iconic Super Tuscans known for its bright sour cherry flavors developing structure with age.
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Refreshing acidity and herbaceous palate featuring vegetal, tropical or stone fruit notes depending on origins in Loire, Marlborough or Napa.
  • Syrah/Shiraz – Big and bold when grown in the Rhone or Australia, showing dark berry bramble flavors with pepper or smoked meat undertones developing with maturation in oak.
  • Tannat – Tannat is a red grape varietal that originated in Southwest France but has truly excelled in Uruguay, where it’s now the dominant red grape variety grown. It produces deeply colored, robust wines high in antioxidants like resveratrol and anthocyanins, making Tannat one of the healthiest red wine options (we LOVE that about Tannat!). We featured a Tannat on Episode 103.
  • Tempranillo – Spain’s noble grape producing vibrant wines in Rioja and deeper, longer-lived versions from Priorat with dark fruit and subtle spice evolving.
  • Viognier – An aromatic white from the Rhône exuding honeysuckle, stone fruit and toasted nuts as either a single varietal or blended with Marsanne and Roussanne.
  • Zinfandel – California’s heritage grape grown into a red displaying juicy raspberry and pepper notes when vinified dry, jammy bramble flavors as a dessert style wine.

Wine Regions

Because we live in the United States, we’re going to break up our AVA’s into separate paragraphs. For the rest of the world, it will be by country to start.

Argentina: Argentina has established itself as a premier producer of high-quality, affordable wines. Located in central South America, the country has diverse growing regions that benefit from Mediterranean climates.The Mendoza area, nestled in the foothills of the Andes, is the wine powerhouse. Cool nights and arid days allow grapes to develop intense, concentrated flavors while retaining balanced natural acidity. Malbec has found ideal terroir in the thin, stony soils of Mendoza and is Argentina’s signature variety, producing lush wines displaying notes of plums, chocolate and peppers. Here are some popular Argentina Wine Regions:

  • Mendoza – Vast region produces over 70% of wine, known for Malbec and high-altitude vineyards
  • Luján de Cuyo – Subregion favoring Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in sandy, granitic soils
  • Uco Valley – High desert valley ideal for Malbec, with mineral-rich wines expressing violets and spices
  • Southern Salta – Mountaintop vineyards yield intense reds and sparkling wines
  • Patagonia – Cool climate favors Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and their sparkling derivatives

California: Shelley started her wine career with California Wine and still has a deep fondness for these wines. The diverse California wine region spans over 1,000 miles from the Oregon border to the southernmost reaches of San Diego County. This vast area encompasses a variety of climates and soils suitable for grapes, thanks to long growing seasons and coastal influences that temper heat. Here are some popular California AVA’s:

  • Napa Valley AVA – Cool, mountainous valleys are renowned globally for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Volcanic soils produce concentrated, elegant wines.
  • Sonoma Valley AVA – Neighboring Napa, cooler temperatures favor Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in this scenic valley.
  • Paso Robles AVA – Hot inland region is specialized in RHONE varieties like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, with mineral-rich soils.
  • Livermore Valley AVA – In the East Bay area, ideal heat summation and limestone/gravel soils suit Bordeaux and Italian varietals.
  • Santa Ynez Valley AVA – North of Santa Barbara in the Central Coast, known for superb Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in east-west running valleys.

France: France has a long, prestigious history of winemaking, cultivating grape varieties that produce world-renowned wines across its diverse landscape. The country is divided into over 70 appellations (terroir-based regions), further divided into more than 350 viticultural areas called crus. It’s tough to whittle France’s wine regions to just 5 but we’ll start with these five popular France Wine Regions:

  • Bordeaux – Large region surrounding tributaries of the Gironde estuary yields rich reds and dry whites.
  • Burgundy – Prestigious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines emerge from the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.
  • Champagne – Cool climate and chalky soils are ideal for the country’s celebrated sparkling wines.
  • Rhône Valley – Prized Syrah, Grenache and Viognier from Northern and Southern subregions.
  • Alsace – Along the Rhine, this Germanic area specializes in crisp Riesling and Pinot varieties.



New Zealand:

South Africa :

Washington: The Washington wine region is easily the region that Shelley and Phil have the most experience with, given where they live. It has established itself as one of the premier New World viticulture areas, known for its diverse selections of cool-climate grapes. Here are some popular Washington AVA’s:

  • Columbia Valley AVA – The largest in the state, producing a variety of grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling.
  • Walla Walla Valley AVA – Renowned for red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, benefitting from volcanic soils.
  • Yakima Valley AVA – The highest tonnage producer, ideal for Rhone varieties like Viognier, Grenache and Syrah.
  • Red Mountain AVA – Hot climate makes it ideal for Bordeaux reds, known for complex Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Horse Heaven Hills AVA – Large sandy desert soils suit Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot plantings.