MW Topic of the week - growing Cabernet Sauvignon & Riesling!


This week we are going to directly address an old exam question from 2016 that popped up again this past June as part of the stage 1 assessment.

"Can Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling be successful in the same location?"

Remember - with MW essays, the two most important things are to DEFINE YOUR TERMS and PROVIDE EXAMPLES.

So, with that in mind.... take your shot! Or at least post some ideas.

Are there places where these two varieties perform well in the same location? What does "location" mean, anyway? 

Compare and contrast the preferred habitats of these two varieties. A well-rounded answer will consider a number of angles -- climate, soil, perhaps even the cultural traditions of various regions (though this is a Paper 1 question, i.e. viticulture, so probably best to keep your answers grounded). 

But before I leave you to your thoughts, I wanted to make an important statement: I am an MW student, not an MW, and certainly not an adjudicator. The same applies to  and . So while we are guiding this conversation, please know that we don't have all the answers. We are, effectively, studying along with you. So we are all vulnerable here! Good luck!

  • I found this a difficult one to structure (my feedback noted that as well). Would love to know how you or others tackled this question.

  • Good news, my feedback said that I had good structure and definitions. Bad news, I basically blacked out while writing furiously and can’t remember much! 

    I remember that I argued that the varieties can be successful in the same location. And defined location as a regulated region - AVA, AOP etc. 

    I focused each paragraph on a similarity between the varieties. E.g relatively cold tolerant.

    Can anyone give an example for a region (preferably vineyard) not in USA or Canada? I struggled here. 

  • Did you argue they could be successful? How did you use US/Canada examples?

  • Mort’s Block and Walton’s Block from Kilikanoon in Leasingham, Clare Valley, South Australia

    Really enjoying these MW threads - not studying for the MW exam, but seems like a good mix of directed study/thought for sommelier/winemaking.

  • Yes, I did argue that they could be successful. I defined region as appellation in my introduction, but all my examples were single vineyards.
    Argued that both were late budding and therefore suitable for regions with spring frosts - used Ravines in Finger Lakes, USA as an example.
    Argued that both were cold hardy and suitable for regions with cold winters - used Mission Hill in Okanagan, Canada as an example. Mentioned use of wind machines here too.
    Argued that both are heat tolerant with appropriate vineyard management - used Kiona Vineyards in Red Mountain, USA as an example here with mention of fruit shading. Also mentioned Trefethen in Napa for heat tolerance.

    I remember that I mentioned the Leonetti Cellar Loess estate vineyard in Walla Walla Valley in there too but I can't remember what I used it for!

  • That's the goal and it's helpful to have your and others' insights into other properties and parts of the world!

  • I was gonna say clare valley as well, just because of the climate, and soil composition. also possibly from the uco and salta riegons in Argentina. Amalaya wines is making a torrontes and riesling blend. 

    furthermore if you want a classic example of where you can grow riesling and cabernet with great success I encourage you visit smith-madrone on spring mountain. 

  • I was Australia eden valley - Washington yakima - South Africa cape point - I think I focused on ability to thrive on different Soils, elevations, and a preference for a long growing season for late ripening fruit, and sorta finished by talking about how they can be complimentary like riesling doing better near rivers and cabernet suffering some uneven ripening near rivers and creeks, Or potentially harvesting Riesling early for light styles and cabernet later.  I had trouble defining location bc sizes of appellations vary so greatly.... I think its evident in the examiners note too that they thought Napa was too broad but were chill with the Great Southern

  • How about Clare Valley where Not only  riesling is successful but plantings of the burner Sauvignon and many Italian varieties are added? Cannot recall the name of the winery without my notes but I was there during the presidential seminars in Australia.

  • I also think that defining ‘ successful’ is crucial Which sets the tone of your argument. Does that mean that the two varieties can achieve optimal ripening? Or  these two varietal wines achieve equally high quality? 

  • Weingut Gold of Württemberg grows both Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.  They are located near Weinstadt and one of the Cabernets that they produce is an Ortswein from Großheppach.  Their website is here, but appears to be German language only.

  • I hinged on the definition of location, pitching micro-, meso-, and macro-climatic definitions and answering the question from each climate definition.  Morrison Vineyard in Rattlesnake Hills, Eden Valley, South Africa and Pfalz all have traditions of growing the grapes side by side.  I mostly argued from a meso-climatic perspective (i.e. as big as a region and as small as a single vineyard) talking about aspect and exposure as well as the mitigating influence of altitude in hilly regions.

    They seemed to dig it.

  • Absolutely ! How would you define it?

  • I mentioned some of the regions discussed in this thread, with Horse Heaven Hills as a specific AVA where Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling grow successfully (they ripen, and there are commercially successful high quality examples of each). What I also included was a region where I thought both could do well because of significant diurnal shift = Ribera del Duero, enough heat to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon and cooler micro-climates (Eastern Ribera del Duero, i.e. Soria) for Riesling. Cabernet Sauvignon is already an approved variety in Ribera del Duero, although planted in minuscule amounts.