What is Pinotage?

March 5, 2024

By Brian Zawada

Ever heard of a wine varietal named Pinotage?

I discovered it a little over ten years ago during a visit to Cape Town, South Africa.

Back in 1925, a South African professor traveled to France and returned with 177 varietals, with the goal of finding varietals that would work well in his local climate. He decided to cross two of them – Pinot noir and Cinsault (also known as Hermitage).  Today, it’s the varietal that many commonly associate with South Africa and it can be fantastic.

Fast forward to 2024 and Oregon, Violet Vines is excited to begin working with this varietal!

Why make Pinotage?

Beyond the fact that we really like this wine vinified in South Africa, it’s a varietal that ties two major parts of our winery together.  Let me explain.

When we started Violet Vines in 2019, we wanted to focus on ultra-premium Oregon Pinot noir, with its roots pointing back to the Burgandy region in France. Three years later, we fell in love with Oregon-grown Syrah and planted a little over seven acres in the McMinnville AVA and in the Rocks District of the Milton-Freewater AVA.  Well, Syrah and the Rhone Valley in France are tied together, which is also where Cinsault originates.

So Pinotage brings together two French regions that influence so much of our wines at Violet Vines – with a slight detour through South Africa!

Want to learn more – visit The Pinotage Association.

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