All you need to know about wine: what is pinot gris?

What is Pinot Gris?

First, let’s start with pinot gris pronunciation: pinot gris = pee-noh-gree. This is because of its origin in France.

Our Small Victories Pinot Gris is vibrant and zesty with a satisfying savoury finish. Our 2021 Pinot Gris won the trophy for Best Pinot Gris 🏆​ at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show in November 2021 – something we are very proud of for our first vintage release!


Origins of PINOT GRIS

Pinot gris and pinot grigio are infact the same grape variety, with greyish/pinkish skin. Gris means grey in French and grigio is grey in Italian!

The difference then comes in winemaking techniques. Pinot grigio is often picked earlier in Italy, making a more acidic, zesty wine. Pinot gris is typically picked later in France, so it is riper, richer in flavour and mouthfeel. This difference in style carries through to winemaking in Australia and how a wine might be named pinot gris v pinot grigio.

Bec and Jules Ashmead Small Victories Pinot Gris

Australian Pinot Gris

Through the history books we understand that pinot gris was first brought to Australia in 1832 through James Busby’s imported collection of grapevines. However it wasn’t ’til the 1990s that Australian winemakers really took to pinot gris.

The cooler climate wine regions in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia became pioneers for the new frontier of pinot gris in Australia. Plantings grew quite quickly in area across these regions.


PINOT GRIS winemaking

This is a great explanation of pinot gris winemaking in Australia, from Halliday Wine Companion:

“If you’re making gris in Australia, the vinification often involves barrel fermentation, whereas grigio is typically a cold-ferment in stainless steel. This means that gris leans towards the more full-bodied end of the spectrum, resplendent in spiced pear and honey, and can boast a higher sugar content than the more mineral, zesty, acid-driven grigio.” 

Our Small Victories Pinot Gris was carefully pressed to avoid colour pick up, the pristine juice was cold settled before racking for fermentation. Post fermentation we left a portion of the blend on lees to build palate weight.

Here Jules, our winemaker, talks about making pinot gris:

I have always been intrigued with pinot gris as it encompasses a broad range of styles. From those made in the crisp acid driven pinot grigio expressions to the more oily, textural styles of pinot gris. The fun challenge in making a pinot gris is finding that balance between sufficient ripe flavours, acid and palate texture to finish.



It needs to be chilled, but not icy cold! As pinot gris is a more textural wine, if it is too cold you’ll lose some of the joy of the wine.

Make sure your pinot gris has been the in the fridge or esky, so it’s around 10˚C when you’re ready to drink. Straight out your kitchen fridge will be too cold, so pour your glass then let it warm up for a bit. You’ll find it interesting to see how the wine changes as it warms up!

For more information on wine serving temperatures, check out our blog post.

Our approach to Winemaking
bottle of Small Victories Pinot Gris on a table at a dinner party

The best food pairings for Pinot Gris

Pinot gris is a great ‘food wine’.

Classic pairings are suggested as fish and shellfish dishes, but remember, you don’t have to stick to the traditional ‘rules’ of food and wine matching!

If you love a good cheese and wine match, look for a big wedge of Manchego. Or from our cheese plate experience with Barossa Cheese, vache curd is another great pairing.

On chilly nights, a bowl of potato and leek soup is a great match for pinot gris. Here’s an easy mid-week recipe to try.

Staying on the potato theme, a hot bowl of wedges – crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside – is also a pinot gris food pairing you must try! We’re all about the simple joys, here.

Sushi is another great match; the clean flavours work beautifully with the mouthfeel of pinot gris.

Jules loves a glass of pinot gris with a vibrant summer salad full of herbs, a little chilli and a hearty fish like salmon.

Matt Dunne, sommelier and wine list creator for ARIA Sydney and Opera Bar (among others), suggests that our pinot gris is calling out for battered fish and chips on the beach. Yes, please!


Small Victories Wine Co PINOT GRIS

Our Pinot Gris is vibrant and zesty with a satisfying savoury finish. From a vineyard just out of Balhannah in the Adelaide Hills, we crafted a wine a floral outburst on the front palate, with a textural finish.

“This pinot gris manages to find the sweet spot: it’s dry and crisp, yet has enough weight to seduce. Butterflied garlic prawns on the bbq and a chilled bottle of this would go down quite the treat!” Melissa Moore, The Wine Pilot, on the 2021 vintage. 


SHOP | Small Victories Pinot Gris