Grape varieties Grape varieties

How many grape varieties are there in the world of wine?


Although today everybody talks aboutAlbariño, Verdejo, Tempranillo and Grenache, knowledge of grape varieties has not always been as prominent as it has become in recent times. In countries with a long winemaking tradition, we need to go back no further than four decades to a time in which the name of the grapes was a technical matter that only was important to the winegrower. The wine label didn’t even indicate the varietal composition of the wine because that didn’t necessarily help increase sales. It was assumed that, if the wine came from Burgundy, it would be made with Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, depending on the type, or mostly with Tempranillo, in the case of Rioja wines. Therefore, the remaining wine-producing regions were identified with their native varieties.


This all changed however, when the countries of the so-called New World wines - the United States, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, etc. - decided to identify their wines by the grape variety instead which revolutionized marketing techniques in the sector. This new way of marketing wine, associates the grape variety with a brand, and is much more in tune with the consumers’ needs and preferences in new markets. Consumers now can better taste the traits of a region and land in the organoleptic varietal characteristics.


Of the 10,000 grape varieties grown worldwide, 33 are found in 50% of the world’s vineyards.

The 1,368 grape varieties of Jancis Robinson

Now, the varietal mosaic offered by the wide-ranging global vineyard is much broader than you may think. According to British expert Jancis Robinson in her book Wine Grapes -written in collaboration with Master of Wine Julia Harding and geneticist José Villamouz- an estimated 10,000 grape varieties grow on this planet. In her book, published in 2012 however, the well-known writer reviews 1,368 and highlights how types of wine that are produced and marketed around in the world.


Robinson's book is timely because she bases her information on empirical data which can be counted based on wines varieties that can be purchased and tasted. The statistics however, show quite the opposite is true, data is presented that is far-fetched and in some cases, is the contrary to the reality of the wine sector.


That is at least what is found in the Focus OIV 2017 report, the latest one to be released by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), where the aim was to discover the distribution of grape varieties in the global vineyard.

Although the total number of varieties grown on the planet may be impressive, it’s worth noting that the figure also includes table grapes and raisins. We should also note that only a few varieties take center stage: of the 10,000 registered, 13 comprise a third of the global vineyard surface, while 33 occupy 50% of the total.



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Of the 10,000 grape varieties grown worldwide, 33 are found in 50% of the world’s vineyards.

French and Spanish grape varieties

The effect of the globalization of wine production over the last 50 years and the expansion of French grapes are evident in the ranking of the varieties that currently have the greatest presence in the world's vineyards. The most obvious example is Cabernet Sauvignon, which, with 341,000 hectares planted, is the most cultivated wine grape of the global vineyard. At 15 Bodegas you have a wide variety of wines made from this type of grape, such as Raimat Cabernet Sauvignon Organic. Other very popular French varieties of vitis vinifera are Merlot (266,000 ha), Chardonnay (210,000 ha) with wines such as Intramurs de Poblet White); Syrah or Shiraz (190,000 ha) and Sauvignon Blanc (123,000 ha).


Among the Spanish grapes, the two that have a prominent position in the list of the most cultivated varieties in the world are Tempranillo (231,000 ha) with wines such as Viña Pomal Reserve; and Airén (218,000 ha). Although in this case, they are not as popular due to international expansion, but mainly because of their importance to the Spanish wine industry: between them, they make up a total of 43.2% of the vineyard surface area in Spain. This is a very high percentage, especially considering that Spain has 235 types of grapes and leads the ranking of countries with the largest vineyards in the world, with just under one million hectares.


According to the same OIV report, the country with the second highest ranking, in the world of wine, is China (875,000 ha), although its vineyards are dominated by table grapes, such as the Kyoho, which, with 365,000 ha, is the most cultivated variety in the world.


Another widespread grape is the Sultana, which has a versatile use: although it’s mainly used for raisins and table consumption, it’s also vinified to produce modest quality white wines.


With our single-varietal wines, you have the opportunity to learn more about the characteristics of each variety and find out if you are more of a Verdejo or a Chardonnay, Tempranillo or Grenache type of person. Or does that depend on the day? Here at 15 Bodegas we have wines for every taste and for every occasion.


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