California Wines- not just about Napa Valley
California is one of the largest and most diverse states in the US, and its wines feature a diversity of character unique to the region from which they come. While you can find wineries practically anywhere in the state, here’s a look at the largest and best known wine regions in California.
Wine Industry in California
When people think about California wine, the Napa Valley is usually the first thing that comes to mind. This is where the modern wine industry in California started and ultimately flourished after the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris. The Napa Valley is considered part of California’s North Coast Wine Region, which also includes Sonoma, and Santa Rosa, stretching all the way up through Mendocino. While the Napa Valley produces many different varietals, they are particularly known for world class Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays.
More About California Wine
The cooler coastal regions such as Sonoma County produce excellent Pinot Noirs. The Central Coast wine region in California is known for some of its larger producers like Santa Cruz, Monterey, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and the Santa Ynez Valley, although there are several other small cities that contribute to the wine community of the region. Of these, the Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County wine regions were made famous by the movie Sideways, and are now hot spots for travelers and wine enthusiasts alike.
With over 200 wineries and some distinctive wine blends, Paso Robles produces great, big, bold Zinfandels, Syrahs and Petit Syrahs, along with a slew of Italian and Spanish wines. Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley produce great Pinot Noirs, and have lately become known for their Rhone varietals.
Other Wine Regions in California
California’s Central Valley is one of the top agricultural areas in the nation and they also produce some great wine! Lodi, in the San Joaquin Valley, is especially known for its fantastic old vine Zinfandel wines. Northeast of the Central Valley wine region, just a short trek from San Joaquin County, is Amador County, a growing wine region in the picturesque Sierra Foothills. Amador County is known for Zinfandels, and Italian-style wines like Sangiovese and Barbera.
As you can see, California gives any wine lover a great deal to choose from. Now all you have to do is a pick a region to visit and let the “awakening” begin. Make sure to take your trusty “wine aroma kit” on your visit to truly enjoy all the subtle and “not-so-subtle” nuances and characteristics of your favorite beverage. And remember, all that really matters is what YOU like. Sante!