What will be the next big grapes? Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 gave her own thoughts on that question over at Serious Eats. Though she chose Petite Sirah as the next big red grape, she had more difficulty in selecting a white grape. She was unsure whether Pinot Grigio or Riesling could become that big grape. In my own comment to her post, I thought that Albarino might become the next big white grape. No one really commented that Riesling might actually be the big grape.
So I was rather surprised last evening, while perusing the lastest copy of WineS Magazine (Sept.2008). There was a short article about the rise of Riesling. It states that Riesling is the "fastest-growing white wine varietal for the third straight year." In the period of May 3, 2007 to May 3, 2008, it was also the "second-fastest growing of all varietals, second to pinot noir." Sales of Riesling have increased 54% over the past three years.
Those are certainly impressive figures and they make me think that Riesling is posed to be the next big white grape. I did a little more digging though on the issue.
Wine Business Monthly (11/15/06) had an earlier article about the rise of Riesling that places it in a bit more perspective. Riesling is "the fourth-largest white wine sold" in the U.S. Between November 2003 and August 2006, Riesling sales increased by 72%. Only Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir had stronger growth rates. Since November 2003, imported Riesling sales have grown by 155% and domestic sales by 40%.
The article also stated: "Sales of Riesling are so strong that some believe the varietal may eventually challenge Sauvignon Blanc's place as the third-largest white varietal sold in food stores. While Sauvignon Blanc sales are currently double that of Riesling, the growth rate is only about two-thirds that of Riesling. If these growth rates were to continue, Riesling sales would, indeed, eventually surpass Sauvignon Blanc."
So it seems that Riesling has been showing steady and significant growth from at least 2003. With such growth, I would have to say that Riesling is already the next big grape and will only get bigger in the near future.