Most blended wines today are made from grapes grown in variety-specific sites. The grapes are harvested and fermented separately, then combined to make a final wine. But not all blends are produced this way.\r\n\r\nBefore there were varietal bottlings and modern cuv\u00e9e blends, there were humble field blends. This ancient approach to winemaking was once the norm. Though less common today, the tradition lives on in certain wine regions. Let\u2019s look at the history, and future, of field blends.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat are field blends, and how are they made?\r\nField blends are made from a m\u00e9lange of different grapes grown together in the same field or vineyard, then picked and fermented at the same time. These unique wines are different than the typical blends we know today, like those of Bordeaux, where grapes are grown and vinified separately.\r\n\r\nFor centuries, grape varieties grew side-by-side in a vineyard. Old World winemakers planted some for ripeness, some for acidity and others for color. It was done to ensure an entire year\u2019s harvest wouldn\u2019t be lost if environmental conditions affected one or more of the grape varieties. It was a way to maintain consistent quality long before technological advances made it easier to do so.\r\n\r\nAt harvest, the interplanted grapes are picked and co-fermented together. The flavor profile of field blends vary depending on the grapes they contain, but they\u2019re prized for a level of balance, harmony and complexity.\r\n\r\nFor the many winemakers who love to make them, field blends are a distinct and expressive way to showcase a vineyard\u2019s terroir and honor tradition.\r\n\r\n\r\nRegions that make field blends\u2028\r\nVienna, Austria\r\nThe mother of all field blends, Wiener Gemischter Satz is the traditional wine of Vienna frequently found in one of the city\u2019s heuriger, or wine taverns. It even has its own Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC), Austria\u2019s classification for wine. A Gemischter Satz must be a blend of at least three white varieties, planted together in one Viennese vineyard.\r\n\r\nGemischter Satz producers like Weingut Wieninger, Weingut Zahel and Weingut Mayer am Pfarrplatz have a plethora of grapes from which to choose. Some of the varieties include Gr\u00fcner Veltliner, Riesling, Chardonnay, Weissburgunder, Welschriesling, Neuburger, M\u00fcller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer and Gelber Muscateller. No single variety can make up more than 50% of the blend, and the third-largest portion must be at least 10%.\r\n\r\n\r\nAlsace, France\r\nAlsace once had a rich history of field blends, but as the region began to favor single-vineyard varietal bottlings, they fell out of fashion. It\u2019s a shame, because Alsace\u2019s field blends brought the region fame and fortune from the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century.\r\n\r\nThe original practice for the region\u2019s edelzwicker, or noble blending, was to make it using field blends. Now, however, separate vinification is more common. Though they\u2019re harder to find today, winemakers like Domaine Marcel Deiss and Domaine Schoech still craft field blends of Pinot Gris, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Gew\u00fcrztraminer and/or Riesling the traditional way.\r\n\r\n\r\nDouro Valley, Portugal\r\nField blends are a notable element of Port\u2019s history. With more than 90 varieties permitted, the Douro Valley is a place where the ancient tradition can thrive. In the past, vineyards in the area were planted with a mix of red and white indigenous grape varieties. The practice was so widespread that growers weren\u2019t always sure which ones they had.\r\n\r\nMany of the newly planted vineyards in the Douro Valley contain a single variety, but interplanted vineyards still exist. One example is Quinta do Portal, where a historic field blend of as many as 29 grape varieties are grown and harvested together to produce an old-style bottling of Port. Some of these field blends end up in wines beyond Port. Wineries like Niepoort also use them to make dry, red table wines, often from old vines full of character and complexity.\r\nCalifornia\r\nNapa and Sonoma are home to a number of heritage field-blend vineyards that date to the late 19th century. Most are planted with red varieties, predominantly fruit-forward Zinfandel or Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah for tannins and Carignan for brightness and acidity. These grapes were used to make a classic California field blend that sometimes went by the name of \u201cmixed blacks.\u201d\r\n\r\nWineries like Ridge Vineyards, Ravenswood Winery and Bedrock Wine Co. still seek out these field blends, partly because the plots are filled with old vines, survivors of an earlier era.\r\n\r\nThere are a limited number of California field blends planted with white grapes. One noteworthy example is the Compagni-Portis vineyard in Sonoma Valley. Planted in 1954 with Gew\u00fcrztraminer, Trousseau Gris, Riesling, Roter Veltliner and other varieties, it offers a glimpse into a time before Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc ruled the area.\r\n\r\n\r\nAustralia\r\nIt\u2019s always exciting to see a New World region embrace an Old World winemaking tradition. Emerging regions in Australia have discovered the beauty of field blends. Unlike Europe, there are minimal appellation rules there that dictate which grapes can be planted or how many varieties can be blended together.\r\n\r\nInnovative winemakers like Domaine Simha and Sinapius in Tasmania, and Massena in the Barossa Valley are creating a new wave of lively field blends from white grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Viognier. Some of these also fall into the country\u2019s growing category of natural wines.