Wine in Holland
Holland may not be one of the major wine producers in Europe but according to the Wijngaardeniersgilde (The Winegrowers’ Guild) the Netherlands has around 170 commercial vineyards that produce around 900,000 litres of red and white wines.
Because of its cooler climate, the Dutch grow hardier grape varieties such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, as well as younger varieties like the Regent, Cabernet Cantor, Pinotin, Riesel and Cabernet Blanc. Most of the Dutch vineyards can be found in the provinces of Gelderland and Limburg but there are small producers dotted all over Holland.
It’s so easy to get to Holland by taking one of our car ferries to Amsterdam or even France and driving across. From there you can explore this glorious country from the comfort of your own car. Just make sure you leave enough boot space so you can take a few cases of your favourite wine home with you.
Header image credit: Max Braun
The Dutch have been making wine in Holland for centuries. The earliest mention of vineyards situates them around Maastricht and dates from the year 968 when they are mentioned in an inventory of the land holdings of a Saxon queen named Gerberga.
Until the climate went chilly in the 16th century and downright freezing in the 18th, Dutch wine, it seems, was well-respected across Europe. The vineyards were predominantly found in the south of the country but the 18th century saw a mini ice age, which meant some of Holland’s large vineyards had to close and it put an end to winemaking in several areas. Many other European countries managed to overcome this period of adversity, but wine production in Holland was practically wiped out until the 1970s. In fact, the oldest vineyard in Holland is Apostelhoeve in Limburg, which was founded in 1970.
Image credit: Frank Van Laanen
Classic grape varieties such as Riesling, Auxerrois and Pinot Gris have been grown in the south of the country for quite a few years, but they’ve now been taken over by Johanniter and Solaris for white wine and Regent and Rondo for red.
The Dutch have become great at experimenting with grape varieties and over the years have managed to make them ripen later in the year and withstand mildew.
This means Dutch growers no longer need to use pesticides on the vines, and wine produced from these grapes can be classified as organic.
Image credit: Jeff Kubina
The south of Limburg is known as the wine region of Holland and it’s here you’ll find the best wines, making it the perfect place for wine tasting.
Maastricht is renowned for its vineyards that grace the slopes of the Limburg hills. You can visit these vineyards, take tours, and taste Pinot Noir, Riesling and Müller-Thürgau.
If you’re planning a trip to Maastricht, we recommend visiting the vineyards at Wijngaard De Apostelhoeve, Hoeve Nekum, Domaine Backerbosch, and Wijngoed Thorn. Most offer different tasting packages, from basic wine tasting to special high wine events.
Image credit: Tristan in Ottawa
The Dutch have their very own wine festival which takes place annually in the town of Groesbeek in Gelderland at the end of September. Groesbeek became a wine growing village in 2001 when half a dozen farmers abandoned the plough and turned to wine making instead. Now the cultivation of grapes around Groesbeek takes up some 20 hectares.
The festival combines a fun and raucous carnival atmosphere with some serious wine tasting, and everyone in the town turns out in fancy dress. As well as the organised wine tasting, many local bars and pubs stock wine from the area, so it’s a great way to sample the local produce and enjoy a great party atmosphere.
It’s always a proud moment when you’re recognised for your good work, we’re honoured to have been named again as the World and Europe's Leading Ferry Operator 2016 at the World Travel Awards. We have been Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator for 5 years running now, and the World’s Leading Ferry Operator for 6 years.