Californian wines


California is the heart of American viticulture. It alone accounts for nearly 90% of the volume produced by the United States, the sixth largest producer of wine in the world. Its vineyard area is equal to three quarters of France. A bargain when you have a more unique climate, perfectly suited to the cultivation of the vine.

A country of contrasts

What a chance the Americans have to have a region with such an oenological potential. The climate, first of all, is Mediterranean. The combination of more or less strong influences from the Pacific Ocean and the high heat from the desert to the East creates ideal conditions for the development of a multitude of wine varieties. In addition, the soil shaped by the many incidents that have affected the geological California combine varied landscape such as lakes, valleys, hills, steep slopes and volcanic residues, that increase the diversity of soils. This wealth is such that Americans have not completely solved the equation between climate, variety and land that would allow them to further improve the quality of their wines.

Although their hands give them a unique opportunity to develop a quality production, local growers have sold to the sirens of the law of supply and demand and their production is in accordance with the expectations of their compatriots. The wine culture has reached an industrial scale: extreme mechanization, average yield exceeding 100 hl/ha in combination with a low planting density, intensive irrigation sprinkler or drip, woody to measure (use of drums oak chips or artificial flavors of wood). California produces 2.5 million bottles a year in which some fruit flavors still present are masked by the intensity of wood, guarantee of quality for most consumers. In the end, most wines produced border on mediocrity and lack the finesse and elegance that one would expect from such a region.

In terms of variety, California is also a land of paradox. The wild native grape labrusca vitis is of average quality, and in any case produces wines well below its European cousin, vitis vinifera. It has quickly adapted to the Californian climate to provide the most convincing results of American viticulture. The main red varieties are as follows:


Recent research has shown that its genetic identity card is identical to the Primitivo grape variety widely grown in southern Italy, especially in Puglia, where it gives a wonderful red wine. We attribute its presence in California to the strong Italian immigration of the late nineteenth century and its significant development due to a climate comparable between the two regions. Nicknamed the Black Prince of American wine, he plays all by himself California's wine tradition and characteristics of the terroir, and is also gives a nice red wine that can also be used to make tannic red or watery, rosés, whites, sweet wines, sparkling or still sweet. In its most accomplished form, that is to say vinified as red wine from grapes highly concentrated, it displays aromas of spice, red fruit, its fat and silky tannins agree very well with the wood and vanilla flavors provided by the drums. This successful combination gives rise to a powerful and robust wine, round and highly concentrated, making it a very interesting subject of care.


It is the other star of the Californian red wines. Extremely prestigious because of its use in the greatest vintages of Bordeaux, the wine store for him the best soils. Cabernet Sauvignon likes poor and dry soil and gives a dark, tannic wine, with the scent of black currant jam and blackberry. Varietal wines for aging par excellence, it get with time complexity, size and smoothness.

Pinot Noir

The wine grape of the great red Burgundy, it is expressed equally well in cool climates of California. Indeed, the Pinot Noir reveals its full potential and finesse through the spray of the Pacific and the cold nights that characterize its planting sites. He then gives wines with light-colored, red fruit flavors and the woods, decorated with silky tannins and remarkable acidity to balance the whole. Note that the pinot noir has found another favorite land in Oregon where it took advantage of cooler climatic conditions than in California.


It is a difficult grape to grow as it fears the drought and cold. Early, it must be harvested quickly because it rots quickly. It gives a wine of ruby color from light to intense red as that of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where he is much grown in France. Vinified alone or in combination with Caberbet sauvignon to enhance the structure and complexity of the wine, it brings roundness and suppleness, and animal notes, black fruit and underbrush. Of four red grape varieties in California, it is the one with the fewest potential.


It almost has the total monopoly on all the white grapes grown in California, and with good results. California wines from Chardonnay have no problem competing with the best Burgundies and are good candidates for aging. Chardonnay can be vinified dry with fruity notes or incorporated into the composition of Champagnes and sparkling wines.


It is the second white grape acreage in California. It produces white and sparkling wines, the quality often regular but too neutral. However, it is the subject of special attention and could revolutionize California winemakers use. - copyright 2005-2020 - The Jewell City in California- Visit California