Despite the successes of the English settlers, it was the Jesuits and Franciscans of California who established authentic and sustainable vineyards. Whereas other colonies became part of the English Empire, California remained Spanish and developed the most prominent vineyards in North America. Their vinifera grapes grew abundantly on the Southern soil and climate, producing quality European wine. In 1626, Franciscan missionaries planted the first vineyards on the Rio Grande, establishing it as the base for permanent Viticulture. When California was incorporated into the US in 1821, trade was little, and it was underdeveloped. American adventurers who arrived on the Rio Grande were surprised by the abundance of vineyards and little commerce. An active movement to Americanize California and bring other American industries mostly failed. Instead, California continued developing its wine industry, inherited from the Franciscans. Los Angeles became the hub of vineyard development in the early days of California’s American days. Since then the American wine industry has mostly been the California wine history.
California Wine Regions
California has more than 427,000 acres (1,730 km²) of planted vines and is mostly located on a stretch of land that spans more than 700 miles (1100 km) from Mendocino County to the southwest corner of Riverside County . There are over 107 American Viticultural areas (AVA`S), including the best-known as regions of Napa , Russian River Valley , Rutherford and Sonoma Valley AVAs . The Central Valley is the largest wine region of California and extends from 300 miles (480 km) from the Sacramento Valley south of the San Joaquin Valley . This region produces nearly 75% of all California wine grapes and includes most producers box and jug of wine like Gallo, Franzia and Bronco Wine Company.North Coast – includes most North Coast (California) , north of San Francisco Bay. Los Carneros, Mendocino County, Napa Valley, Sonoma County
Central Coast – includes most of the Central Coast of California and the area south and west of the Bay of San Francisco to Santa Barbara County . Livermore Valley, Monterey County, Paso Robles, San Benito County, San Francisco Bay, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz Mountains
Sierra Foothills – includes Amador County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County, Nevada County, Placer County
Inland Valleys – Lodi and the Delta, Madera County, Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley
Southern California – Cucamonga Valley, Los Angeles Area, San Diego County, Temecula Valley
Far North California – California’s upper northern territory.
More than a hundred varieties of grapes are grown in California, including grape French, Italian and Spanish, as well as hybrid grape varieties and new `vitis vinifera` developed in the University of California .
- 17% Chardonnay
- 15% Cabernet Savignon
- 8% Merlot
- 8% Zinfandel
- 7% Pinot Noir
- 4% French Colombard
- 2% Savignon Blanc
- 3% Syrah
- 36% Others
California Wine Production
(In million gallons)
Until late 1980, the California wine industry was dominated by Bordeaux varieties and Chardonnay. Sales began to decline as wine drinkers became bored with the familiarity of these wines. Some of winemakers and Rhône Rangers and the new wave of Italian winemakers with the term “Cal-Ital” movement of winemakers seeking red wine alternatives to the standard French varietals. The Santa Cruz-based Bonny Doon Vineyards, was one of the first wineries to actively promote this variety of darker grapes. The variety of grape also encourage a variety of wines. California produces wines of nearly all styles of wines that are known including the famous sparkling and dessert wines.
Wine Styles of New World
Most of the Californian wines (along with Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina) become famous as fruit forward wines. The reliability of the warm climate allows many wineries use very ripe fruit leading to a wine with a fruity character rather than mineral character. It also creates the opportunity for many Californian wines have a higher alcohol level (more than 13.5%). The style of Chardonnay from California differs from many wines such as Chablis, winemakers in California use the malolactic fermentation and aged in oak to do so buttery and fuller wine. The Californian Sauvignon Blancs are not as herbaceous as wines of the Loire Valley or the New Zealand but have more powerful and fresh with floral notes.