A Geographic Brief on the Wines Distributed by Vintage Wine Co.


Vintage Wine Company distributes wines from around the world to any retail or restaurant location in Michigan. For our regular customers, we'd like to give you a little background about the wine making specialties of the countries whose wines we carry.

United States

The United States is one of the world's leading producers of wine. While most of American-made wine comes from California, every state in the union has at least one winery. Significant wine regions include Washington, Oregon and upstate New York. The Great Lakes region provides favorable conditions for vineyards in Michigan and Ohio. The primary wine producing grapes grown in Michigan are Chardonnay and Riesling.


California produces 90 percent of the wine made in the United States, and by itself ranks in the top five of the world's wine-producing countries. California's five climatic regions are so similar to the world's best wine producing areas that essentially every classic grape variety can be grown in the state.


Argentinean wineries have experienced a growing global recognition as a producer of fine wines, with Argentine Malbec being among the most awarded varietals at international wine competitions. Argentines have a reputation of loving red wine to go with the steaks their country is known for.


Australian winemaking is among the most sophisticated in the world, with more vineyards being planted in cooler climates, producing wines such as Pinot Noir. Other notable wines include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. Muscats from the Rutherglen region are among the finest fortified wines from New World wineries.


Chilean winemakers have moved away from traditional vineyards in semi-arid areas irrigated by snowmelt from the Andes to instead explore cooler areas. The newer vineyards are better suited for Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer.


That France is known for its food and its wine is no accident of history. Vintners have developed most styles of wine as meant to accompany food, be it served at a sidewalk bistro or a formal multi-course dinner. Many French wines are blended from several grape varieties, with more varietal white wines produced than their red counterparts.


Nearly all German wines are made from the Riesling grape grown along the Rhine or its tributaries. Germany's best wineries use the Riesling for aromatic and fruity elegant wines ranging from very dry and crisp to sweet and well-balanced. German wines are ranked based on when the grapes are picked, with the same vineyard picked as many as five times. The last picking goes into some of the most expensive wine in the world.


The Dutch are not known for their wine-making, but they have a long history of involvement with European vintners, particularly those from Germany and France. ChocoVine is a specialty export that combines a rich dark chocolate from Holland with a fine French Cabernet. It is served by itself or as a key ingredient in dessert cocktails.


Hungary's wine growing region in the country's far north experiences long, warm autumns and mists that drift in from the River Bodrog. These conditions are perfect for Noble Rot, a fungus that contributes toward the harvesting of botrytised grape. These grapes, crushed to a paste, are mixed with Furmint, Muscat or other locally grown grapes to produce an especially fine and concentrated sweet desert wine, Tokaj. Since the right conditions only occur on an average of three harvests per decade, winemakers produce a substantial amount of dry Furmint in the off-years.


Italy produces one-fifth of the wine consumed in the world, and it also has some of the broadest varieties of wine to offer. Its long coastline moderates temperature, making the region conducive to the growth of a wide range of grapes. Italy's varied geography, from mountains to valleys and islands, create 20 wine-growing regions, each producing wines with distinct tastes.

New Zealand

New Zealand vintners have made their reputation in white wines that are pungent, clean and refreshing. While especially true of its signature Sauvignon Blancs, New Zealand also produces notable Chardonnays, Rieslings and Pinot Gris. Pinot Nor from New Zealand's Central Otago has garnered the greatest attention among the red wines.


Portugal is best known for its Port, or Porto, a fortified wine produced exclusively in the micro-climate of country's northern, remote Douro Valley. While Port-style wines are made around the world, only wines produced in the Duoro Valley can be labeled Porto. The other wine regions of Portugal, however, produce a large variety of different wines with distinctive traits.

South Africa

The majority of wines produced in South Africa are white, with about a third of those made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Yet grapes grown in the Stellenbosch valley, the larger of two main wine-growing regions in South Africa are used to make a Cabernet Sauvignon that is gaining a solid reputation among fine red wines.


Spain has a diverse viticulture with nearly 150 acknowledged grape varieties, and unofficial estimates of many more. Airén is the most widely planted white wine grape and has been used as a base for Spanish brandy. Garnacha and Temprarillo are the predominant red grapes, and both are used to make full-bodied red wines from the Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Penedes region. Spain is also well known for its sherry, a heavily fortified wine produced by vineyards in the southern part of the country.

Tags: California, international wines, wine-growing regions