California is unavoidable when discussing superb wines from the United States, and with good reason. The state has a vast range of microclimates, allowing winemakers to experiment with a wide range of grape types and winemaking processes.
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The History of Californian Wine
Despite the fact that wine grapes were planted in California by the end of the 18th century, the wine business faced significant hurdles in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Phylloxera infestations and a restriction on alcoholic beverages in the 1920s and early 1930s. Despite this, noble French grape types such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were championed by California wineries. During the famed 'Judgment of Paris' tasting in 1976, their best wines even outperformed bottles from some of the most prestigious Bordeaux and Burgundy producers. California remains a wine powerhouse a few decades later, regardless of whether you're searching for value, status, or both.
What Are the California Wine Regions?
The most known and active wine-producing regions of California are Napa Valley, Sanoma County and Santa Barbara County. These 3 major regions are followed by; Mendocino County, Marin County, Lake County, Monterey County, San Louis Obispo, Paso Robles, San Diego, Central Valley, Sierra Foothills.
What kind of wine is California known for?
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the two most prominent grape types in California. Nearly 95,000 acres of California's 525,000 acres are planted to Chardonnay, while 80,000 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Surprisingly, roughly a quarter of all California vineyards are committed to organic, biodynamic, and sustainable winemaking.
What makes California wine different?
There has been a great dispute in the wine business concerning the unique California style since the 1976 Judgment of Paris, in which a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags' Leap Winery and a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena defeated wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. The majority of critics think that it all starts with fruit-forward wines that make significant use of California's ideal growing conditions to pick highly ripe fruit. As a result, the wines are extraordinarily luscious and rich. Old World wines from Bordeaux, on the other hand, are earthier and have greater minerality.
California winemakers have also been affected by the famous and prominent wine critic Robert Parker, who has championed California wines and pushed behind the scenes to persuade winemakers to embrace a particular style over the past 30 years. Parker was a big supporter of single-vineyard wines, new barrel aging, and wines that were ripe and robust. The phrase "cult wine" was coined in the 1990s to describe low-production California wines with a higher Robert Parker rating that sold for a significantly higher price on the wine secondary market than if purchased straight from the producer. Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Sine Qua Non, and Marcassin are among the most popular California cult wines today. The best part is California wines offer a range, you can find good enough California wines under $5, or hundreds of dollars worth of fancy CA wines. You may also find the middle ground and get exceptionally good California wines under $50.