• April 15, 2024

The California Wine Region

Though vineyards exist in almost every U.S. state, California outranks all of the others by a great deal and its production can even be ranked on a global scale. In fact, California ranks # 4 in the world in volume production among wine producers with a total of 2 billion liters per year, following only Italy, France, and Spain. It also ranks as one of the most diverse wine regions in the world due to its ability to produce almost 100 separate high-quality grape varietals. Some of the most popular wines include:

* Merlot

* Pinot Noir

* Cabernet Sauvignon

* Shiraz

* Zinfandel

* Chardonnay

* Sauvignon Blanc

Within the state, there are approximate 4,500 wine grape growers; a testament to the size and importance of the wine industry in California. In 2006, the California wine industry had a $51.8 billion dollar economic impact on its own state and a $125.3 billion dollar impact on the entire United States. The wine industry in California is easily the most profitable of any other area in the Unites States and its wine’s are among the top in quality around the world.

Due to different growing conditions within the state, the California wine producing areas are separated into five major regions: North Coast, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast, Central Valley, and Southern California. Each of these regions can be divided even further into sub-regions called appellations (which are often counties) that many people who are not even familiar with wine will easily recognize by name such as Napa, Sonoma, and San Joaquin Valley. When a wine label contains a specific appellation, it means that at least 75 percent of the grapes used within the wine were grown within that specific region. Wine labels can also contain two or three appellations to classify the different grapes used within the wine if the percentages are specifically noted as well.

The climate range in California varies from region to region which allows for superb production of many different types of perfectly grown grapes which results in many different varietals. Elements of the weather, such as the cool offshore breezes that cool the Sonoma County vineyards, are extremely important in the distinct growing condition needs for specific wine grapes.

The most important varietals produced in the California wine region are chardonnay and cabernet, though many other varietals from the region are massively popular such a pinot noir. The California wine region has a reputation for producing a high-quality wine to be enjoyed in a relaxed setting among friends, just the way its biggest fans would want it.

Merlot

Merlot is a popular thin-skinned red wine grape that is believed to be descended from the Cabernet Franc grape and was first recorded in Italy in 1832. It is used for both the purposes of blending inspired by the Bordeaux wine region of France and also for the production of straight varietal wine. In the 1990’s particularly, Merlot experienced a huge surge in popularity and became the new trendy wine but its popularity has proved to possess staying power. In 2003 there were over 50,000 acres in California devoted to the Merlot grape alone.

Some of the highest quality Merlots comes from Bordeaux, France, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Chile, and Washington State. These areas have elevated the historical planting of Merlot into better quality soils which have resulted in a Merlot that is less-suited for blending and perfect for its own varietal. The taste of a Merlot is dependent on the type of soil in which it was grown. For instance, Merlot from flatter and more clay-like soil results in a smoother, more velvety wine. Merlot grown in more mountainous regions tends to taste more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many Merlots tend to have a taste reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but they has less acidity due to a thinner skin in the grapes and earlier ripening time. It also frequently possesses a wide variety of flavors such as: currant, plum, black cherry, caramel, clove, bay leaf, bell pepper, olive, and violet. It is low in tannins and many wine drinkers believe that it is smooth and an easy-to-drink red varietal. Silver Kiddush Cups

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