Monday Musings: When Is A Grape Considered Indigenous or Native?

Throughout the years I have been writing this blog, coming up on 15 in May, I have often written a column about Italian Indigenous Varieties. I rarely use the term native but many people do. For this week’s Monday Musing, I am thinking about language, time, and criteria. I have often wondered if a grape is considered native if it only grows in a certain area or if because it was first seen in that area and then spread elsewhere such as Nebbiolo and Sangiovese which are easy examples that everyone agrees are native to Italy, even if they are grown in other parts of the world, with more or less success.

With a grape such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay of course the conversation takes much longer and tempers can sometimes flair. Of course these two grapes are native to French, as all international varieties are but they have both been in Italy since at least the 1800s. If a grape grows in the same area for 150 years, does that make it local? It has of course adapted to its surrounding so is it now a clone or a biotype of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and does that make it local if not native.

I do not know if there are agreed upon definitions for either of these terms but I am curious to hear other people’s points of view. Please weigh in.

One comment

  1. I feel pretty strongly about using indigenous/native only where that grape originated. But, like your point about Pinot and Chardonnay in Italy, many international varieties have a long history in other countries. This is why I like to use the word “heritage” because it honors the history and tradition behind a grape’s use while acknowledging that the grape did in fact originate elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.