Some of the story
There are an estimated 10,000 varieties that have been turned into wine. At least 1300 of them are still, or once again, being commercially cultivated. Though not as desperate today as the global monoculture of the genetically shallow Cavendish Banana, 70% of the world’s wine is now from just 30 varieties. Such causes for wines becoming endangered is the lack of producers, the repurposing of land, climate change, increased commercialisation of more common varieties and outdated or abandoned production techniques. Also it must be said that varieties go extinct because they hold no redeeming value as wine whatsoever. However. If it can be saved and it should be saved, let’s drink the wine and keep those vines around. Conservation through consumption.
Vineyards across Europe have been tested over the centuries. If a struggling vine makes the best wine, then we have some wine to taste. Back to back plagues of Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew and Phylloxera killed off massive numbers of unnamed vines and their clonal variations. The grapes that survived these attacks though didn’t necessarily make the best wine previously. The criteria for survival was mostly twofold, that varieties were able to graft easily to American rootstock, and that they could produce a lot of wine quickly to replenish the now unmet demand for wine. Market pressures then swept the globe as consumers demanded New World-style wine made from French varieties. The indigenous vines of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and across Eastern Europe were ripped out for those the wider market demanded.
Another reason that many of these rarer grapes were abandoned is that they were deemed at the time to be more difficult to grow and ripen consistently. Many have since demonstrated that they were wrongly culled. Where appellation laws exist that stipulate which varieties can be grown, these varieties were often omitted when the rules were established. Now with growing conditions changing across the world, vignors will depend more on grapes that can still grow and make wine in warmer seasons. Ripening less quickly, with more resilience to the sun as well as offering lower sugar levels, higher levels of acidity and tannic structure. To get there we desperately need the widest range of grape adaptability to combat what’s to come.
Clonal diversity has been diminished also due to a misguided focus on production and quantity, over quality and personality in clonal selection. In many cases, vines with smaller berries and bunches making less, but potentially more concentrated wine were overlooked in favour of vines that produced big, fat (potentially dilute) grapes that were easier to grow.
Euro Native Wines are a collection of those uncommon varieties grown where they always were. An online store based in Amsterdam and delivering throughout. We're available for tastings, partnerships and events. The winemakers that supply this store pursue their craft for any number of reasons, but above all else, their hard work was intended for us to enjoy the wine.