I know what you are thinking: the Netherlands is famous for its beer and its jenever, but surely not for its wine? Well, we are here to tell you that Dutch wine does exist, and it is a delight to the taste buds. Not only that, in recent years it is up and coming!
So, let’s first take a step back in time.
It is assumed that the Romans spreading their seeds could have been the ones responsible for successfully planting the first grapevine in Maastricht, back when the city was called Traiectum ad Mosam (‘ford in the Maas’).
The first mention of viniculture in what is now the Netherlands dates back to 968. By the end of the Eighty Year’s War in 1648, the Dutch had amassed a fleet of 10,000 ships. They transported Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhine, Greek, Spanish and Italian wine all over the world. They traded with Germany, Sweden, England and the Baltic, among others. They also imported wine for themselves, with Rotterdam being the chief port of entry due to it being so close to the Rhine.
The easy access along the Rhine river helped the Dutch to develop a taste for sweet, white wines. They would add sulphur to stabilise the wine and stop the fermentation process. They bought cheap wine from all over France, traded in Swedish copper, and used the forests of Armagnac and Cognac to fuel their stills. The distilled spirits and fortified wines travelled well to the corners of the world.
Dutch wine today
Modern production of wine in the Netherlands started in the 1970s but it wasn’t until recently that the Dutch developed more of an appreciation of good wine and a desire to know more about it. The reason for this could be their frequent visits to the incredible wine countries of France and Italy. Though, it does make me wonder: have they even tried their own country’s wine? Perhaps not, as they might not even realise it exists. This may come as news to them: it not only exists, but Dutch wine has made it all the way to the top-rated restaurants. This is thanks to the wine farmers, since their production process has become more professional over time.
The Dutch also owe a debt to global warming. Yes, it is true. The effects of climate change have had many catastrophic consequences for our planet but have also led to countries like Canada and the Netherlands being able to grow better grapes, leading to the production of better wines. For example, the extremely hot summer of 2018 has made that vintage the best Dutch wine year to date.
Currently, the country has 180 commercial vineyards, while neighbouring France has 27,000. Although wine production is small, it is a strong growing branch of Dutch agriculture. Most of the Dutch vineyards are to be found in the provinces of Gelderland and Limburg. In addition, there are vineyards in North Brabant, North Holland and Zeeland, with more in northern Drenthe, Overijssel and Groningen.
The vineyards of Maastricht
Just outside the city of Maastricht – close to the river Maas, which is the natural boarder with Belgium – you can find various vineyards on the slopes of Limburg’s rolling hills. Maastricht is known for being one of the best culinary cities in the Netherlands and the wine production plays an important role in this. You can visit the vineyards, take a tour and taste Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Müller-Thürgau. Check out Dutch wines at the vineyards of Wijngaard De Apostelhoeve, Hoeve Nekum, Domaine Backerbosch and Wijngoed Thorn.
Take a trip to a winery in North Holland
Would you like to take a wine tour and think that France, Italy or even Maastricht are too far? Well, you can taste a tipple closer than you think! There are beautiful wineries in North Holland where you can go for a tour, a cheese and wine tasting, even for a concert.
Check out the local tours below.
• Amsteltuin: Just a short distance from Amsterdam, you’ll find Amsteltuin vineyard in the residential village of Amstelveen.
• Saalhof: The bed and breakfast, restaurant and vineyard Saalhof is in the charming town of Wognum and it has a long history – it was established in 1900.
• Chateau Amsterdam: On a Saturday, you can visit the cellar and the chateau of Chateau Amsterdam and taste a selection of their wines.