by Fred McMillin
for June 23, 1999


Traminer Trouble


Years ago in Europe, there was a grape variety named TRAMINER. "Gewurz" ("spice" in German) was tacked on to draw attention to a clone of the grape which sports a spicy character.

Winegrowers find Gewürztraminer (geh-VURTS-trah- meen-er) is almost as hard to produce as it is to pronounce. The grapes don't attain any character until fully ripe, and make a flabby, uninteresting wine when over-ripe. The difference between these two events can be just hours; one exasperated winemaker says, "to pick Gewürztraminer at its peak, you have to SLEEP IN THE VINEYARD."

...Vinifera Wine Growers Journal

The Rest of the Story

In California, it looks like fewer and fewer grape growers are sleeping in the vineyard. Twenty years ago Gewurz acreage was over 3,000. Today it's about half of that. Fortunately, there's a winery that's not given up on the grape...BARGETTO. Our WineDay of April 21,1997 pointed out that Bargetto had a streak of garnering at least one gold with their Gewürztraminer for nine years in a row. The 1992 won more medals than any other U.S.A. Gewurz table wine. Here's the 1997.

Wine of the Day

Bargetto Winery 1997 Gewürztraminer, Monterey County, CA
Bargetto Winery, Soquel, CA
Style—This was the off-dry, which I find increases the honeysuckle charm of the grape. Bargetto also makes an Alsacian-like dry model, which sells very well.
Rating—RECOMMENDED. Excellent value at $9.
Food Affinities—My students enjoy it with spicy cuisine, be it Mexican or Asian.
Contact—Gretchen, (831) 475-2258, FX (831) 475-2664


Think Pink—For those who like the nitty gritty, there are three Traminers, white, pink and blue. Only the pink is spicy. For further details, see the Oxford Companion to Wine, p.446.

And who were the first to appreciate the Traminer enough to take some home from its hideaway in the Alps? It was those wine-loving Romans.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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