Old World winemakers have long integrated grape varieties within their vineyard sites—planting some for ripeness, some for acidity, others for color—to help ensure an entire year’s harvest wouldn’t be lost if environmental conditions adversely affected one or more. Many times, such vigilance results in a wine made from a hodgepodge of grapes and labeled as a field blend.
Modern American producers, however, largely focus on single-varietal wines or those that are blended post-fermentation. While mixed plots and co-fermentation are increasingly more common in the U.S., chances are, if a field blend is made, it’s a red wine.
But stateside producers have begun to rediscover the beauty of white field-blend bottlings, utilizing vineyards that have been interplanted with a number of varieties to be picked, pressed and fermented together. These four are a great sampling.
Angeleno Wine Co. Alonso Family Vineyard White Field Blend
When Jasper Dickson, proprietor/winemaker of Angeleno Wine Company, first learned about the mixed white varieties planted at Alonso Family Vineyard, he couldn’t resist making a wine with them. For this bottling, he harvests Treixadura, Loureiro, Godello and Albariño all together. “Some grapes are a little underripe, some a little over, but I love the layers of flavor and texture…from combining,” he says.
Carlisle Compagni Portis White Wine
Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is just one of many producers to source fruit from Compagni Portis vineyard, planted in 1954 with an assortment of white varieties that includes Gewürztraminer, Trousseau Gris, Riesling, Roter Veltliner and Chenin Blanc. Carlisle’s section is predominantly Gewürztraminer, with some Trousseau Gris and Riesling, which Winemaker Mike Officer harvests and co-ferments for this bottling. “It yields a wine greater than the sum of its parts,” he says. “One plus one equals three.”
Hiyu Falcon Box
Columbia Gorge, OR
Winemaker Nate Ready believes field blends allow for a freedom from common standards. “And that’s a good thing for the transparency of the wine,” he says. At Hiyu Wine Farm, he has 14 acres of vines planted to more than 100 varieties. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Aligoté and Melon de Bourgogne go into this wine to create a powerful yet precise Burgundian-influenced chameleon.
Va La Vineyards La Prima Donna
This aromatic skin-fermented white features Tocai, Malvasia Bianca, Fiano, Pinot Grigio and Petit Manseng. Though Anthony Vietri, Va La’s owner and winemaker, cultivates mixed plots planted to northern Italian and French varieties of all colors to be made into terroir-specific field-blend wines, this is the only white he bottles.