With such a diverse terroir, California is home to more than 100 grape varieties and over 24,000 hectares of vineyards spanning the state! Think decadent Cabernet Sauvignon, sophisticated Pinot Noir, luscious Chardonnay, and so much more from both legendary estates and small-batch establishments whose wines are highly sought by California wine enthusiasts.
From Sonoma County to Napa Valley, California has earned a reputation for producing quality wines that are always popular around the dinner table. Luckily, we don’t have to be there in person to capture everything California wine has to offer. Take a dive into the Golden State’s past while exploring some of their most famed wine regions with us!
Before the area became known as “wine country”, a group of missionaries from Spain planted the state’s first known vineyards in 1769, though they were used solely for religious purposes. It wasn’t until the Gold Rush, when thirsty miners arrived in droves, that California’s first actual winery was born. While there is some contention of who gets the title of oldest winery in California, most sources give the credit to D’Agostini Winery in Plymouth established in 1856 followed shortly by the more well-known Buena Vista which was the first to make wine from European varieties in Sonoma County in the year 1857. Both of which are still in business today!
The California wine industry saw many ups and downs in the next 100 years: first the phylloxera epidemic which made its way from Europe to cause havoc in the vineyards and then the Act of Prohibition which caused hundreds of wineries to shutter. Despite these setbacks, the industry was able to make a quick recovery on the world stage at the ground-breaking 1976 Judgement of Paris when a selection of California wines beat out top wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux in a blind tasting held by mostly French judges.
Today, California ranks as the world’s fourth largest producer with 1,200 wineries across the state! Of the four main wine regions (North Coast, South Coast, Central Coast and Central Valley) the North Coast, which is home to Napa Valley, is especially renowned. Here you’ll find legendary American Viticulture Areas (AVA) like Rutherford, St Helena, and Oakville with the likes of Caymus Vineyards, Raymond Vineyards, and Robert Mondavi, respectively. Here, Cabernet Sauvignon is King and Chardonnay is Queen.
Travelling west to Sonoma County, Pinot Noir thrives thanks to cooling influences from the Pacific Ocean. Here, AVAs like Knights Valley and Russian River Valley have also had their fair share of attention thanks to famous residents like Beringer Vineyards and Rodney Strong Vineyards.
While Napa Valley and Sonoma County in the North Coast are often the first to come to mind, California’s diverse terroir also includes Lodi in the Central Valley which is known for Zinfandel; Paso Robles, Monterey, and Santa Barbara in the Central Coast whose offerings range from Merlot to Rhône style blends, and Temecula all the way in the South where the dry and warm climate is ideal for Syrah.
Join us in raising a glass to the resilience, creativity, and passion of California winemakers who share the fruits of their labour with the world!
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