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Grignolino most probably has its origins in Italy's Piedmonte region, where was identified and cultivated since before 1800. The name comes from a local dialect that means "many pips".

Indeed, this variety has numerous seeds in each berry, which can impart bitter tannins if extra gentle pressing is not practiced. A late-season ripener with natural tendencies toward high acidity, Grignolino is particularly successful in warmer growing regions. It can be a long-lived vine and is fairly resistant to diseases.

Grignolino makes wine with very fruity aromas, often with floral notes and hints of citrus or spice. The wines tend to take on shades of orange, rather than purple. Grignolino is produced as rosé as often as red wine, both of which are usually best enjoyed in their youth. Their bright acidity makes a good complement to foods with high fat content.

In California, less than 100 acres are planted and very few wineries make varietal Grignolino. Heitz Cellar was long the stalwart consistent producer, partly out of sentimentality, since this was the grape planted in the winery's first vineyard, purchased in 1961. Heitz made both red and rosé Grignolino each year and occasionally produced a Grignolino "Port".

Jim LaMar

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Page created September 11, 2002; last updated July 1, 2015
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