Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are actually the same white grape with two different names. In California and Italy this wine is known as pinot grigio, while in France and Oregon it is known as pinot gris. The pinot grigio grape is actually a white mutation of the pinot noir grape, which is red. Pinot Grigion grapes have a Rose skin color, which makes people think it is a red grape variety.
Most pinot grigio wines are made in Italy. The Italian version of pinot grigio is usually dry, and light, with a mineral taste to it. Californian variants of pinot grigio tend to be a bit richer in flavor, but still retain the mineral taste. Often, they finish with a citrusy or lemon flavor.
French pinot gris wines are mainly produced in the Alsace region. These tend to be more fruity and flowery than their Italian counterparts, though they still seem to retain that mineral aroma. Flavors can range from grapefruit to peach to melon.
Pinot grigio originated in the Burgundy region of France in the Middle Ages. By 1300, the vines had spread to Switzerland and were discovered growing in Germany in the 18th century. Pinot gris was a popular wine grape in Burgundy and Champagne for several centuries however, due to unreliable crops the grape lost favor to more reliable varieties in the 18th and 19th centuries. From here the grape made its way to various other countries including Italy, New Zealand, North America and Australia, first arriving there in 1832.
Australia: Pinot grigio was initially brought to Australia by the “father of Australian wine”, James Busby in 1832. Both Pinot grigio and Pinot gris labelled wines are produced in the region, with the Pinot grigio designation going toward the drier wines.
France: In 2006, Pinot gris grapes made up approximately 13.9 percent of the vineyard surface of Alsace, France. With it's cool climate and volcanic soils the French version of the wine, also called Pinot gris, richer, spicier and fuller-bodied than other styles of Pinot grigio. New Zealand: Pinot grigio is grown on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It is the fourth most planted white grape behind Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. Around half of the Pinot gris in the country comes from the Canterbury and Marlborough regions.
Oregon and California: Pinot grigio is relatively new to the American west coast, first being planted in Oregon in 1966. Oregon has more than 1,800 acres of Pinot gris, while California boasts 1,630 acres. California Pinot grigio tend to be similar in style to Italian Pinot grigio.
Italy: The main plantings of Pinot grigio grapes can be found in the Lombardy region and in Italy''s most northern wine region, Alto Adige.
Generally, Pinot grigio is a crisp, fruity dry white wine, with a delicate aroma hinting of honey, roses, nuts, orange rind and pine. Subtle differences exist in Pinot grigio from different regions. Oregon produces medium-bodied Pinot grigio's with fruity aromas — usually pear, melon or apple. California versions tend to be light-bodied and crisp with aromas of arugula and pepper. And Italian Pinot grigio is usually a light-bodied, crisp and acidic wine. This wine pairs well with seafood, light pasta, and cheeses, particularly soft cheeses.