Grape Varieties at Fess Parker Winery
Known as one of the “noble" varieties, Riesling is one of the most ancient German varieties and certainly one of the world's greatest white wine grapes producing some of the most highly expressive, age-worthy wines ranging from bone dry to extremely sweet. Most likely originating from the northern bank of the Rhein in Germany, Riesling has been shown by DNA analysis to have a parent-offspring relationship with Gouais Blanc and no genetic relationship with the confusingly named Riesling Italico, Welschriesling, Clare Riesling, Cape Riesling or Gray Riesling.
On The Vine
With a notable hardness of its wood, Riesling is very cold-hardy and frost-resistant making it suitable for some of the world's coolest wine regions though it needs particularly favorable conditions to ripen fully. Producing compact bunches of small grapes, it is generally known to bud late and ripen fairly early, though the longer, slower ripening periods of cooler climates brings out its best qualities allowing it to achieve optimum levels of ripeness while retaining its high levels of natural acidity.
Many would be surprised to learn that owing in large part to its naturally high acidity, well made, hand-crafted Riesling can outlive most wines and remain enjoyable for decades after their vintage. Expressive of its terroir and relatively low in alcohol, other common descriptors for Riesling include flowery, honeyed and seductive in its sweeter incarnations to racy, steely and even tart in its drier forms.
All of Germany with many of the finest coming from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Rheingau regions; Alsace, France; Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal in Austria; Alto Adige in Italy; Barossa, Clare and Eden Valleys in Australia; California, Washington state, New York and Canada in North America
Riesling in California
Once known as Johannisberg or White Riesling (and still is on some labels), Riesling has seen a recent upswing in popularity in California, perhaps owing some of that to nearby Washington state's efforts to reinvigorate American interest in the variety as well as an increased focus on producing higher quality, drier styles rather than the softer, sweeter styles it became known for.
Riesling at Fess Parker Winery
Here at Fess Parker Winery, we've always had a high level of respect for the noble Riesling and even devoted a section of our estate Rodney's Vineyard to it. Both our Santa Barbara County and our Rodney’s Vineyard selections of varietal Riesling are modeled more after Alsace than Germany with sweetness kept decidedly low and acidity crisp. The Santa Barbara County Riesling is made in an off-dry style with just a hint of elegant, honeyed sweetness while the Rodney's is made dry, allowing the wine to most optimally express a sense of vintage and site.