Grenache, or as it’s known by its Spanish name, Garnacha, is one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world; it’s also one of the key ingredients in some of the world’s most famous wines, one of them being the famous French Rhone blend Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Grenache is known for its berry flavors of bright strawberries and raspberries and notes of white pepper, with many people even saying that the wine has the unmistakable flavor of a fruit roll-up!

The Garnacha grape was born in the northern region of Spain known as Aragon. There, the grape began to be cultivated and was originally used for both single varietal wines as well as for blending.

Due to Aragon’s location on the border of France, Garnacha traveled over the Pyrenees mountains and found another home in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. As a result of the language difference, the French called the grape Grenache (its more widely known name today) and from the Languedoc, the grape traveled to the Southern Rhone where it became famous.

In the Southern Rhone, French winemakers were looking for a grape that could be blended with the other famous varieties of the region. The grape they sought would add body, alcohol and fruity flavors to their wines. They found that grape in Grenache and it was there that the famous, and highly collectible, Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine blend was born.

Early 20th century Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers helped set the stage for France’s AOC system, drawing up a list of ten varieties that could go into a wine that carried this name. The list grew to the famous thirteen varieties when the group’s laws were enshrined as an AOC in 1936. The list was updated, over six decades later, to the current eighteen permitted varieties.
Palais des Papes - Palace of the Popes - in Avignon, FranceThe Avignon Popes improved viticulture in Southern Rhone. Under John XXII, they came to be known as Vin du Pape, today’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Grenache (Garnacha) can now be found in both blends and as a single varietal across the United States. It’s grown the world over, from its original homes of Spain and France, to Australia and the United States. It’s a fantastic wine for classic fall and winter dishes like roasted vegetables, prime rib, rack of lamb and Beef Bourguignon.

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