Dutch Language Blog

Santé! or should I say: op uw gezondheid!? – Dutch Wines. Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Culture

Nederlandse wijn. Yes, you read that right, it is a thing. However, wijn in the Netherlands is very rare and scarce. That has not always been the case.

Before the Middeleeuwen (Middle Ages), wine was very popular, and the Netherlands actually had a climate that allowed for wine production. Wine grapes were probably already planted during the reign of the Romans in the Netherlands. Especially in the southern parts of the country, around Maastricht, vineyards could be found. The climate was good enough, even though its location is still quite northern compared to other wine areas like Spain and Italy.

The Wijnfeest in Groesbeek in 2008. Image by Clint.hotvedt at Wikimedia Commons

Then in the Middeleeuwen, this all changed. Beer became the main drink, because it was more durable due to its ingredients. So demand dropped, and wine was produced less and less. Additionally, the climate changed in the 16th century, and the Netherlands became rather unsuitable for wine. Furthermore, because of the Hollandse Opstand (Dutch Uprising – the 80-Year War) and because of Napoleon’s ban on wine exports from France during the Napoleonic Wars, the popularity and availability of wine further declined. Just after the Second World War, the last vineyard of the Netherlands closed. Only in the 1970s, wine-making returned. In Limburg and Noord-Brabant, new vineyards emerged.

Despite this history, wine-making still exists in the Netherlands, mainly in the provinces Limburg and Gelderland. Even an annual wine festival is held in Groesbeek, next to Nijmegen. 

In 2007, the Netherlands had around 150 vineyards, with an output of around 1 million liters per year (around 250,000 gallons). Limburg has the largest region with around 90 hectares, which translates to around 220 acres. One of the best-known vineyards of the Netherlands and first that restarted wine-making in 1970 is the Apostelhoeve. It lies in the very south of Limburg.

Have you had Dutch wine before? If yes, what did you think about it?

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.