Currently grown worldwide, exceptionally well in cooler climates, albeit most white wines are pinkish grapes, Gewürztraminer has a fascinating origin story.
Still, when it comes to a mature wine palate, the experts go with the French Gewürztraminer. The origins of this German and Italian named vintage may surprise you.
Where did Gewürztraminer originate?
Take the second half of the word, Traminer. If we investigate the word’s etymology, there is a family of grapes that come from this grape, which has been grown since before recorded history.
Traminer refers to the vines from the small town of Tramin nestled in the northern mountains of Italy. The most recognizable version of this white wine comes from the Alsace region of France.
The vines are fed from the waters of the Rhin River and kept cool by the multiple mountain ranges that surround the Rhine Valley. This historic region of France has championed this vintage and has solidified its spot amongst the master vineyards.
What region of Italy is Gewürztraminer from?
According to sources, the parent grape of the now called Gewürztraminer is from the Northern mountainous region of Italy.
More specifically, the small town of Tramin or Termeno is high amongst the Dolomite Mountains, which but up against the Swiss Alps to the north.
Rumor has it that between the 11th and 16th centuries, this grape made its way out of the German, and Italian mountain towns, over them and through the Swiss Alps, down into Germany via the Rhine Valley, and over the border/Rhin River into France where the local population revealed in the vintage which shows today.
Why do they think it originated from France or Greece?
A common misconception is that all wines are from France, Italy, and Greece, and some of the oldest known wines come from these regions.
Still, the oldest known records of wines come from Ancient Egypt and the fertile crescent between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which housed the cultures known as Phoenicia, Assyria, and Mesopotamia.
Take the Merriam-Webster etymology of the word Gewürztraminer. Gewürz is a German word for “spice,” and Traminer refers to various grapes grown in Italy.
More specifically, Termin or Termeno of the northern Dolomite Mountain range. High in the Alto-Adige, this town comprises 2/3s of Germanic families and the rest primarily Italian, making perfect sense for this Germanic Italian rooted word.
Why France? Because the most famous vintages come from the Alsace region that borders Germany along the Rhine River. In many ways, the white wine did originate from this part of France.
The grape traveled across the Swiss Alps and down into Pfalz, Germany, where it ventured over the border and into the western regions of France and took root.
Final Thoughts Gewurztraminer’s Origin
The Gewürztraminer has a fascinating history, from the parent grape traveling over the Swiss Alps to the addition of Lychee in the Rhine Valley region of Germany and France.
Finally, it found a home with the perfect conditions for growing grapes for their “Spiced wine.” Alsace, France is famous for its vintage origins, but the grape’s family history goes further.