The Amazing Story Of Chenin Blanc’s Origin

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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When you enjoy a glass of wine, you like it because it suits your palette. Most people don’t think about where the wine comes from unless they are wine experts. 

Unfortunately, if you’ve been favoring Chenin Blancs lately, maybe you’ve been curious where the wine originated from? That’s what we’ll explore in-depth today so that you understand Chenin Blanc’s origins.


Where did Chenin Blanc originate?

Chenin Blanc originated from Loire Valley, France. It is thought to have been around since the 9th century. It was raised in a vineyard that belonged to Glanfeuil Abbey (which is now the Abbey of St Maurus).

The French started producing in mass quantities around 1496 when Thomas Bohier purchased the vineyard in Chenonceaux. Several grape varieties were introduced from the Burgundy wine region. 

François Rabelais, who was a French writer, wrote about Chenin Blanc, the major grape in the Loire Valley by the 16th century. 

Chenin Blanc was confused with another grape called the Verdelho, a grape from Portugal that has grown in the Loire Valley for several years.

In the 20th century, it was then discovered that it was not Chenin Blanc, and it was banned from French AOC regulations in the Loire Valley area.

The grape then spread to South Africa (which is one of the world’s largest plantings today).

As the Chenin Blanc had a very interesting start in its origins. It’s now the wine that we know and enjoy today.

White wine being poured into a glass on a white surface - Chenin Blanc's Origin.

What region of Italy is Chenin Blanc from?

After it originated in France, the grape made it through other countries besides South Africa. But there is one region in Italy that grows and produces Chenin Blanc. That region is Sicily. 

Sicily provides the perfect climate for growing Chenin Blanc. There are currently 111 acres dedicated to growing Chenin Blanc. 

Currently, the Chenin Blancs that come from Italy are full-bodied and have fruity flavors. You could pair aged cheese, white meats, or even grilled veggies with Chenin Blancs from Italy. 


Why do people think it originated in South Africa?

People often confuse Chenin Blanc’s origins with South Africa because it holds one of the largest plantings of this grape in the world. Therefore, in their minds, the mass quantity of the grape makes them think it came from South Africa. 

Chenin Blanc did not get to South Africa until 1655, when Jan van Riebeeck was governor. It was one of the first vine cuttings when it first got there as well. South Africa called it Steen. 

The word Steen came from the Dutch who settled in the Cape who originally called it “La Stan” then “De Steen” to Steen.

The Chenin Blanc in South Africa came to prominence in the early 20th century. It quickly became one of the highest-selling wines in the world. In addition, it was used as a base for South African brandy in this region. 

In the 1960s, there was a semi-sweet version of Chenin Blanc that was mixed with Clarinette Blanche, which enjoyed outstanding success during that time. 

Now you know some history. Therefore people thought South Africa was the origin of the Chenin Blanc. Today, they’re still one of the largest producers of this grape variety.

Final Thoughts on Chenin Blanc Origin

Chenin Blanc has an interesting history behind it. It has been mistaken for other grape varieties and has a different name in South Africa. Despite its history, the wine is delicious, whether it comes from the Loire Valley in France or South Africa. 

It truly depends on what your palette is with the type of wine you’d like. Now that you know its fascinating history, why not try Chenin Blanc today as you wind down?