While wine is grown across the United States, resulting in a wide variety of American wines, it is wine from California that is king in this part of the world.
As a cultural melting pot, with the landmass to match, North America has been producing wines for centuries. It was Spanish missionaries who planted the first seeds that have resulted in wines of California becoming so popular – today 90 per cent of American wines are produced in this state. If it was independent, California would be the fourth largest wine producer on the planet.
Over the years wine from California has weathered everything from the vine killing phylloxera virus to prohibition. Famously it managed to trounce rival French vintages at the ‘Judgement of Paris’ in 1976. This blind tasting event was something of a watershed moment and the profile of the wine from California has been on the rise ever since.
The sweet and accessible Zinfandel
grape has become synonymous with wine from California, and the overall style of American wine. However Merlot
is the most popular varietal planted here and it was a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon
that was first widely acknowledged as a world class wine.
California’s situation amongst deserts, mountains and the Pacific Ocean, gives it a great variety of flavours. Yet the overall warmth of The Golden State means that it has become known for fruity, full bodied wines, ideal for aging in oak. Across the wine regions of California including the North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast and Central Valley, there are many areas with distinctive reputations for wine. Of particular renown are the four hundred wineries of the Napa Valley.