Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is believed to have originated around the 8th or 9th century in Anjou within the Loire Valley of France. The grape was named after Mount Chenin, a little area in the region of Touraine. Finally, it is believed to come from the Savagnin grape.

The grape, as we know it today, gained traction when the Dutch brought it to South Africa. It grew wonderfully there and only developed for the better over the centuries. In recent decades, Chenin Blanc has also made its way to the United States and has slowly gained traction.


While Chenin Blanc wine itself is great and extremely diverse, the grape is even more interesting. The grape is well suited for a variety of climates and tends to incorporate the area’s terroir well. It can do well oaked or unoaked, and Chenin Blanc ranges from bone-dry to sweet, dessert wine. In short, the grape is extremely versatile and produces tasty wine.

Nearly all Chenin Blanc is highly acidic, and this translates differently for different styles. Most dry Chenin Blancs include notes and aromas of pear, melon, grass, and floral bits blended together for a full-bodied white. The sweeter Chenin Blanc wines get, they tend to include rich tropical fruits and honey.


Lucky for consumers, it is fairly easy to dry all of the regional Chenin Blancs being that there are only a few. Historically and still, France is the dominant player, but South Africa is nearly equal in quality and reputation. California has slowly started making a name for itself with Chenin Blanc over the past decade.

Loire Valley, France

The two regions of Anjou and Touraine are largely responsible for Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley and France as a whole. These two regions represent some of the oldest and most traditional styles of the grape. Touraine contains one of the most famous Chenin Blanc regions, Vouvray. Vouvray includes a variety of Chenin Blanc styles that range from dry to sweet and even Sparkling wines. Much of this depends on the climate and weather for any given year. Anjou also produces its own unique style of the grape.

South Africa

Chenin Blanc, also known as “Steen”, in South Africa is on par with that of the Loire Valley. It is the most planted varietal in the country, accounting for over 18% of grape production. The grape is often used in the country’s brandy production, but it is also used to make single-varietal Chenin Blanc as well as blends with other grapes such as Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. The Chenin Blanc here is known for being bright, fruit-forward, and floral.


In the 70s, Chenin Blanc in California was primarily used for cheap blending purposes. This can be seen as the grape varietal’s acreage in the state has decreased from over 21,000 acres to around 5,000. In the past couple of decades, producers have taken special care with a new wave of California Chenin Blanc, particularly from Santa Barbara and Mendocino.