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Home arrow Wine regions arrow California


History of wine in California

The wine production in California started back in the 18th century while Franciscan fathers from 1769 to establish various missions along the coast to convert Native Americans to the Catholic faith. These missionaries then planted vines to make the wine for the celebration of mass.
The California officially became a U.S. territory following the victory of the USA on Mexico in 1848 and then occupy the territories north of the Rio Grande. From that time, many immigrants settled in California and some developing vineyards, some of which are commercial enterprises specializing in wine.

This beginning industry is destroyed in 1919, while the USA adopt laws prohibitionists. Some people continue to produce wine in secret for their own purposes, or to make smuggling. The ban expires in 1933.

From the years 1960 and 1970, the global craze for wine began to grow. Many entrepreneurs flairent this trend and a majority of wineries existing today opened their doors between 1968 and 1976.

On 24 May 1976 took place the "Judgement of Paris". This is a tasting at which various experts, sommeliers and columnists french compared to the indiscriminate grands crus of Burgundy and Bordeaux wines with California. At the unveiling of the results is consternation: California wines come out winners. These wines have their place when the winners of the great wines of this world.

Today, with a vineyard 208 000 hectares and an annual production of 2 billion litres-or 3 billion bottles per year in California is the fourth largest wine producer in the world after Italy, France and Spain.

In 2007, California is responsible for 95% of exports of wines from USA with a record of 951 million dollars. These exports went to the European Union ($ 474 million), Canada ($ 234 million), Japan ($ 63 million), Switzerland ($ 26 million) and Mexico ($ 24 million). 

Legislation of California wineries

The wine production in California is governed by federal law. The label of a wine from California indicates the name of the producer or the "winerie," the name of the dominant grape variety (at least 75%) and indicates the region of origin. The region of origin is normally the name of the State or California. The label, however, may indicate the name of the county, if at least 75% of the grapes come from the county, such as Napa or Sonoma County. Since the county is an administrative entity and name a terroir wine, California delineates areas of viticulture (AVA), the mention of which appears on bottles when at least 85% of a wine grapes came from this AVA, for example Napa Valley or Russian River Valley. Finally, a wine can carry the name of a vineyard in particular when 95% of wine grapes are from, for example Opus One.

Grape varieties of California wines

Red wines

The California red wines are produced from over 40 different varietals. It includes most international varietals. The main red grape varieties are:

Zinfandel, a grape considered typical California.
Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot noir
Petite syrah
White wines

The white wines of California are produced from over 25 different varietals. The main white grape varieties are:


Characteristics of California wines

California wines are expressive and charming. Most wines can be found on the export markets are produced by large wineries that offer different ranges of products with several ratios of value for money. Each winerie offers several styles of wine with distinct characteristics. Nevertheless, ranging from base wines to ultra-premiums, the goal of producers in California is often offer a maximum of power and wealth aromatic. 
The California and the U.S. market are at the origin of single varietal wine . As opposed to European, there are no traditions of grape varieties linked to specific regions. Hence, the provenance of a wine little influence its character. Also, each producer is free to use the varietals he wants in terms of its goals. Thus, wineries buy most of their grapes to specialized farms, which gives them much freedom of action in developing their wines. With the exception of very fine wines, wines from California and are mostly single varietal wines. Therefore, the main ingredient varietal will determine the character of a wine, plus the influence of wine-making methods. Each house can confer a specific style to its various products, depending on their specific objectives. 

Finally, the wine territory of California is divided into three broad areas that have distinct characteristics about the culture of grapes:


-First, there are the coastal areas that are impacted by the refreshing Pacific. They are the best wine-growing areas of California including Sonoma and Napa Valley, but also Mendocino, Monterey, and other areas south of the California.


-Secondly, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada offers conditions comparable to Italian Piedmont, the hot plains of the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.


-Third, the Central Valley, located inside of land between San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of the most agricultural regions rich and fertile USA. This hot region produces wines for regular consumption. It is responsible for 90% of wine production in California.


Evaluations - Californie

Terre Rouge Les Côtes de l'Ouest Syrah 2011, $29.40
Barra of Mendocino Pinot Noir 2013, $27.05
Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet-Sauvignon 2012, $25.45
Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve Californie 2013, $24.05
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