Vintage-Dated, Premium… Grape Juice?

Vinted on January 30, 2012 binned in wine news

Imagine this scenario…

You pour yourself a glass from a premium bottle, the aromatic liquid spilling forth with the tell-tale floral and stone fruit aromatics of high-quality Riesling. You take a long whiff, then a sip, swooshing the liquid around in your closed mouth to get all the volatile compounds going, noting the secondary aromas and overall presentation that identify the growing conditions of the vintage from which the grapes were harvested.

Then you pass the glass to your eight-year old daughter, who downs the rest of it unceremoniously.

This scenario can happen, with no ill effects to your pre-teen offspring, and all quite legally, if the juice happens to be from one of the $10 bottles made by the likes of Virginia’s Oakencroft Farm or Oregon’s Draper Valley Vineyard that are offering high-end, vitis vinifera grape juice – as reported earlier this month on

As in unfermented grape juice. Like Welch’s, only made from vintage-dated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, and the like. Navarro Vineyards has been doing it for decades, in fact.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I’m fascinated by it, for a number of reasons.

First off, if you have too many grapes on your hands this is a brilliant way to put them to potentially profitable good use. And while alcohol is an important element of body and even flavor, this is also potentially an amazing tool for introducing people (and kids!) to different fine wine grape varieties, without the buzz (apparently, keeping the grapes from fermenting is one of the primary challenges in the fine grape juice biz, by the way). And the juices could spice up recipes that otherwise call for wine (Navarro sort of suggests this via their Verjus cookbook).

I’m not sure I’ll ever look at Welch’s quite the same way again (even if it will be to pause momentarily at the refrigerated section of the grocery store to give silent thanks that those Concord grapes never reached fermentation)…






  • Tom

    Many of my producers also bottle single-varietal grape juices and I agree that it's a nice way to learn a little about the grapes' characters. But I'll bet that $10 bottle didn't give you more than a few sips, right?

    • 1WineDude

      Tom – I’ve never tried the stuff so couldn’t say (at least not yet – damn sure when I next run into this stuff I *will* be trying it!). But my guess is No – people are used to, like, triple-magnum volume of grape juice in those plastic jugs! :)

  • geracchr

    Recently, my teens have been getting hooked on high-end "grapp-juus" as they like to call it, and developing discerning tastes. (Oh, the irony!)
    Grape thanks to our Wine Dude for being "ahead of the trends" – and for having the ubiquitousness to cover the non-alcoholic products. Very cosmopolitan. Huzzah!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, geracchr – Words fail me at the ironic cleverness of your offspring; you have got your hands full there! :)

  • gabe

    great post, but you forgot to mention my favorite grape juice producer: navarro vineyards in mendocino

    • 1WineDude

      Gabe – thanks but… uhm… :)

  • gabe

    oh yeah…haha…this is what happens when i scan blogs before work.
    in fairness, it is in a different parahraph than the other wineries…….nevermind, i'm an idiot

    • 1WineDude

      Gabe – no worries, and you're not an idiot. I don't always succeed in making these posts scannable. Cheers!

      • gabe

        lol. trust me, i have an amazing capacity for idiocy. let us not forget the main point – varietal grape juice is awesome

        • 1WineDude

          gabe – I'm sure it pales in comparison to my idiocy capacity volume. ;-)

  • BCD

    A little different than what you mentioned, but there is a company out there that makes a drink they call Vignette. It's basically soda water sweetened and flavored with real Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grape juice. It's pretty good stuff. You see it around on occasion out here in the California wine country for a few bucks a bottle.

    • 1WineDude

      BCD – interesting! I'm not a soda guy, so unlikely to try it (I get my empty calories via booze :), but could be tempted… Cheers!

  • Todd - VT Wine Media

    There is nothing quite like the deliciousness of fresh pressed grape juice, and I've had a couple of commercial products that are pretty tasty as well. They do all tend to be pricey per bottle. Here is a sneaky tip known to home winemakers…you can get all kinds of wine juice by the 5-6 gal bucket, fresh frozen. They might seem pricey, but the per bottle cost is actually reasonable. So, go for it, order a bucket for the next kids birthday party, and figure out what you want to drink, while they get sugar smashed on the juice. ;)

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Todd – great tip!

  • Bart Harris

    Thank you for this post. Your are quite correct about the high quality of the Navarro Vineyard Pinot and Gewurtz. If you want to experience maximum peachy stone fruit flavor and aroma, try the Draper Valley Vineyard Early Muscat. This one takes the prize every time we have a wine-grape juice tasting. It gets rave reviews from adults and children alike; it is also classified as a raw food, having been cold processed.

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