Pinot Grigio Hits The Right Notes


Italy's most popular white wine finding new fans in America.

What’s the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, besides one being French and one being Italian?

Ed King knows the answer, and he’s neither French nor Italian. King is CEO and founder of King Estate Winery, which is credited with bringing Pinot Gris into the national consciousness.

His winery is the largest North American producer of Pinot Gris. Based in Eugene, in Western Oregon, it has been making the wine since its first vintage in 1992, from vines from Oregon and California.

Ed King, CEO and founder of King Estate Winery
Credit: Daniella Zalcman

“I think most Americans don’t know what Pinot Gris is, but if they tried it, they’d like it. I think Americans like this wine because it’s good with food, it’s consistent, and you don’t have to make excuses for it. There are so many wines that have something else going on other than grapes, but this one is so simple and straightforward. It’s a very clean, refreshing wine.”

Pinot Gris has been produced for much longer in Europe, not surprisingly. It originated in Burgundy, France, but vintners there soon realized that Chardonnay grapes and their terroir were a better match, and now the Alsace region of France and regions in northern Italy are the main producers.

Pinot Gris and the Italian Pinot Grigio wines are both made from the same grape, but are produced in very different styles.

In Italy the grapes are grown in the northern regions, especially the Tre Venezie region (Verona, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia).

“These wines are extremely minerally,” says Sharon Sevrens, owner of Amanti Vino wine shop in Montclair, New Jersey. “There are areas when the vines grow deep into the soil and the earthiness gets deep into the wine.”

Pinot Grigio grapes are harvested early so wines made from them are crisp and less fruity, with high acidity and very low levels of sugar. They’re particularly light wines, often popular in summer months.


Add new comment