It doesn’t matter if you’re working in the wine business or love wine as a hobby and side-passion, wine maps are an essential way to understand wine on a deeper level. This latest set of thematic wine cartography combines simple design with key map features (such as elevation shading) to construct a detailed look at 20 of the most important wine-growing regions of the world.
The project has been an effort of about 2 years of work, from collecting data of the various wine producing regions to building a set of design rules that could be translated to any wine region of the world. The current release of 20 maps is just the beginning, we will continually update and add to the collection with the ultimate goal of making a visual repository of the world’s wine regions.
The updated release offers 20 maps from 12 countries:
Old World Wine Regions
France Wine Map
The history of wine in France dates back to Roman times. French wine has developed slowly and methodically over a millennia, which has brought about the world’s most famous wines. Whether you’re a lover of all things France, or simply desire to understand the bigger picture of French wine, this overview provides both context and inspiration.
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France: Bordeaux Wine Map
Bordeaux is the criterion for the famous namesake blend, a mixture of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The region has dedicated itself to continual improvement for centuries and the wines still continue to improve. Get to know the many subregions of Bordeaux and become confident selecting great Bordeaux wines.
France: Burgundy Wine Map
This cool-climate region of Bourgogne (aka Burgundy) has championed site-specific wines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay since the middle ages. The famed regions within Côte d’Or have walled vineyards (called Clos) on which the most expensive wines in the world are grown. As you dig into understanding this region, you’ll begin to see beyond the names and get a deeper sense of the place.
France: Loire Valley Wine Map
The 634 mile-long Loire River spans from the central mountains of France to the coast in Nantes. Along the river (and its tributaries) you’ll discover the enigmatic wines of the Loire Valley; famous for their high aromatic intensity and refreshing acidity. The region is quite diverse not only in climate from east to west, but also in the way wines are unique to each region. From Sancerre (Sauvingon Blanc) to Chinon (Cabernet Franc) to Muscadet (Melon) there is a world of wine to explore in the Loire.
France: Rhône Valley Wine Map
As float down the Rhône River you’ll find some of the most mind-bending examples of Syrah and Viognier, as well as the storied Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend (mostly Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre). But wait, there’s more! Learn each of the great villages of the Southern Rhône, explore the nearby appellations (including those of one of the oldest wine grapes–Clairette), then, taste the amazing, rare dessert wines of Muscat Blanc. Rhône is ready to welcome you to the wines of France.
Italy Wine Map
An overview of Italy’s 20 wine regions including the most popular wines and grape varieties. There are over 350 indigenous wine grapes found in Italy, which adds to the complexity and mystery to this vast winemaking country. Fortunately, you can learn a lot about this region through the perspective of a map.
Spain Wine Map
Spain is the 3rd largest producer of wine in the world and the largest wine country in terms of land dedicated to vineyards. This overview map identified the top wines produced in each of Spain’s 15 wine regions.
Portugal Wine Map
Portugal is an up-and-coming region of interest based on its highly diverse and varied selection of indigenous wines including Touriga Nacional, Arinto, Baga and Alfrocheiro. Tasting the wines of Portugal in context with their location will help you understand how the climate and styles of Portuguese wines are greatly affected by a sense of place.
Germany Wine Map
The most famous and pure expressions of Riesling are found in Germany’s rugged river valley vineyards. Each of the thirteen regions (aka Anbaugebiete) specialize in a different style of Riesling and many, including the Ahr and Baden, have taken to making outstanding Spätburgunder (aka Pinot Noir) that will rival their next door neighbor: France. Learn the wines, the names, and the places of Germany.
Austria Wine Map
Experts know that Grüner Veltliner has shown itself to be as complex and varied as the great Chardonnay wines of the world. Each of Austria’s regions has a different expression of the variety, and other unique cool-climate wines to explore. Gain confidence over this small but fascinating country whose capital has the largest area dedicated to urban vineyards in the world.
New World Wine Regions
California Wine Map
Taking in all regions at once will help quickly make sense of the bigger picture perspective on wine in California. See where Napa and Sonoma sit in terms of all California wine and discover lessor known regions that are well worth your attention.
California: North Coast Wine Map
(Includes Napa Valley and Sonoma!) See beyond the borders of several of California’s most prominent wine regions of Napa and Sonoma to make deep contextual connections between elevation and location that will ultimately help you drink better wine.
California: Central Coast Wine Map
All the way down the coast from San Francisco to Santa Barbara you’ll find some of California’s most prodigious, and most undiscovered wine regions. This map has been updated with the latest data including the new Sub-AVAs of Paso Robles to give you a complete and detailed overview of the region.
Oregon Wine Map
The Willamette Valley produces the large majority of Oregon’s wines with a focus on Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. However, with new regions growing steadily in the southern and eastern corners, we’re bound to see an increasingly interesting diversity of Oregon’s wines in coming years.
Washington Wine Map
Washington has grown quickly into the region it is today and yet, it boasts a high ratio of super premium wines that are capturing the attention of wine writers and critics alike. Each AVA within the Columbia Valley offers a unique expression of some of Washington’s most coveted varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Riesling.
Argentina Wine Map
Argentina’s most important wine regions sit on the high plains and foothills of the Andes mountain range. Beyond the exceptional wines of Malbec from Mendoza, there are fascinating finds to the north with Torrontés in Salta and in the far south where cooler temperatures in Patagonia are ideal for fine Pinot Noir.
Chile Wine Map
Wine was brought into Chile first by Spanish Conquistadors in the mid 1500’s and the country rapidly grew to fulfill international wine demand. The country’s wine production went into disarray until after Chilean Independence. Since then, Chile has begun to re-root itself making a few special discoveries including finding a nearly extinct grape (Carménère) and realizing the potential for elegant, terroir-driven red Bordeaux blends. Chile has wide climatic diversity from north to south but also east to west where cool coastal areas are ideal for wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and inland Andes areas are better for age-worthy red wines like Syrah.
Australia Wine Map
Each of the 6 major regions has a unique wine focus based on their individual climate. In South Australia, you’ll find Shiraz and full-bodied Cabernet blends. In Western Australia, elegant, refined Bordeaux Blends and lean, unoaked Chardonnay are the mainstay. In Victoria, cooler climate varieties do very well, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Learn the where your favorite Australian wines come from and explore new regions.
New Zealand Wine Map
If you love Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, there is more to uncover in New Zealand wine. The country’s 10 major regions specialize in cool-climate varieties, with a focus on sustainable and organic production from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to Chardonnay and Riesling.
South Africa Wine Map
From Cape Agulhas to Central Orange, South Africa is the next great region for warm-climate wines with dusty minerality. The Western Cape’s rugged granite hills are over 65 million years old, and vines struggle to dig through these soils to produce dense, mineral-driven wines. Cabernet Sauvignon may be a highlight for South Africa, but you’ll discover a love for Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Grenache too.
Making of Wine Folly’s Wine Maps
After creating our last set of maps using less accurate tools, we realized it was time to start inputting out map data into a more dynamic system. The maps are created with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which can be used to store, manage and present all types of spatial or geographic data. Since GIS is a digital standard in which all maps (from Google to NASA), the maps have the ability to overlay other geospatial information that is useful to a wine enthusiast.
- Regional Wines
Thematic maps are very powerful when built with relevant contextual information. When we created our first set of maps, we learned the importance of listing the top wines of each region. This added layer of detail opens up a way to find new wine that other wine maps do not have. We hope to continually update this information over the long term with data as the wine world evolves.
- Adding Elevations
Naturally, because elevation is one of the most important indicators of wine quality, the very first data type we wanted to append in the maps was a simply way to visualize a regions topography. To do this, we learned about NASA’s long term digital elevation models of the earth. Surprisingly, if you have the tools, NASA (as a government resource) provides exceptional elevation models of the Earth’s surface for free. Thank you NASA 🙂
Last Word: Your Feedback
Have some quality feedback for us? Like all of our content on Wine Folly, we welcome your feedback and ideas for improvement. Currently we have a long list of new maps to create, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks and enjoy!