California Wines: the complete guide

wine california napa valley

Californian wine is an American wine produced in the western United States. California is the fourth largest wine producer in the world and the largest in the United States, with an annual production of 2.8 billion liters . Californian wine is also the first wine exported to the United States.

The Californian vineyard, a wealth to discover

This vineyard is full of history, culture and natural beauty.

In the United States, 90% of the wine produced comes from California. It was the influx of gold prospectors to California that boosted the California wine industry in the mid-19th century, particularly in the Sonoma and Napa region. At the start of the 20th century, there were 800 wineries. From 1919 to 1933 Prohibition destroyed the vast majority of the California wine industry so that by 1933, only 140 wineries remained producing wine. It was only from 1960 that the wine industry began to recover from Prohibition and California was primarily known for the production of fortified wines (in the style of Port). It was also in the 1960s that some of the most famous estates were created (Mondavi, Heitz Wine Cellars, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, etc...).

The California vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in the United States. It was founded in 1839 by George Yount, who was the first to plant vineyards in the famous Napa Valley or "Napa Valley". The Napa Valley is a world-renowned wine region, known for the beauty of its landscapes, the quality of its wines and the friendliness of its people.

The California wine region is the birthplace of some of the best wines in the world. The vineyard produces many types of wines, including red wines, white wines and sparkling wines. The vineyard's wines have won numerous awards and prizes.

What is an AVA?

Every bottle of California wine indicates the geographic origin, or appellation, meaning where the grapes were grown.

The designations here are defined either by political zones or by agricultural regions recognized by the federal government, called AVA (or American Viticultural Area ). For a wine to be named after an AVA, at least 85% of the grapes must be grown in that AVA. If the wine includes the appellation "California", any California AVA appellation can be used provided that 100% of the grapes are grown in the Golden State.

California climate

California 's abundant sunshine promotes long, consistent wine growing seasons. The diversity of terroirs makes it possible to cultivate a multitude of varieties of grapes. California's rugged 800-mile coastline provides surrounding vineyards with exposure to natural air currents in the form of fog and sea breezes. This makes it possible to cultivate varieties suitable for cooler climates such as Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc.

The more remote valleys of the coast, where temperatures are warmer, also benefit from a cooling effect thanks to rivers, lakes and deltas. These areas are often more suitable for growing grape varieties that ripen later in the year such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

California soils

The soils are as diverse as the number of wine regions. Sand, clay, mud, granite, volcanic ash, seabed soil, river gravel: each element brings an influence on the expression of the grape varieties cultivated as well as a very distinct minerality on the wines.

The influence of immigration on wine culture

Since the 1700s, immigrants from around the world have arrived in California, introducing their wines and sharing their winemaking skills. Hard-won secrets about the soil, climate and vines have been passed down from generation to generation, giving Californian wines a unique and highly diverse heritage .

It's no secret that California wine is some of the best in the world. In fact, many prominent French and Italian winemakers have moved to the Golden State in recent years to take advantage of the ideal climate and soil.

Cabernet Sauvignon, a typically Californian grape variety

Cabernet Sauvignon is a red grape variety native to the Bordeaux region of France that is today widely planted in wine-growing regions around the world, including California.

The first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted in California in the early 1800s by Spanish missionaries. The grape quickly became one of the most widely planted red wine varieties in the state.

Today, California is the largest producer of Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world. The state's warm climate suits this grape variety well, and many of the state's best wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon.

Among California's most famous Cabernet Sauvignon wines are wines from the Napa and Sonoma valleys. These wines are generally made in a more fruity style than their French counterparts.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also a popular grape for blends. Some of California's most famous blends include Bordeaux-style blends and Meritage-style wines.

What is the Judgment of Paris?

In 1976, a significant event took place: the legendary tasting competition better known as the "Judgment of Paris". He sees the greatest French wines opposing the new American wines. This May 24, an unexpected result shakes the world of wine, since to everyone's surprise, it is the United States which wins . However, this competition remains relatively unknown to the general public in France.

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