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California Wines

by Staff Writer - R. Meoki | July 10, 2011

California is known for many things, including its great weather and immense geographical diversity ranging from the Pacific Ocean to the mountain range in the East, to the dessert in the southeast and the forests in the northwest. California wines are much like California itself, in that there is great diversity and various options to choose from. California wines are quite popular worldwide because of the many varieties and consistent excellent quality. In 2009, approximately every three out of five bottles sold in the United States were California wines. California wines are the top producer and exporter in the United States. 90% of wine is exported from California. Thanks to the near perfect growing and harvesting conditions in California for wine grapes, there are many different California wines to select from. California wines can range from the sweetest, lightest white wine to the heaviest, most full-bodied red wine.

It is a good idea to discover more about the different California wine regions in order to learn more about various kinds of California wine. There are almost 3,000 California wineries, most of which are family-owned. It is interesting to discover how the slightly different soil and climatic conditions in each area can produce different types of wines and which types of wine each California wine region is famous for. Although wine is produced all over California, Napa Valley and Sonoma Country are the two main wine producing areas people think of when they think about California. The California wine industry has skyrocketed in the past thirty years. Newer award-winning wine regions include the Santa Ynez Valley and the Temecula Valley. These areas are known as California Wine Country and very popular amongst tourists and vacationers. California’s wine industry attracts over 20 million tourists annually to all regions of California.

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The seven main grape varieties which produce California wines are Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Each of the seven main California wines has a distinctive description. Cabernet Sauvignon has been referred to as the king of red wine grapes, while Chardonnay is the queen of whites. Cabernet Sauvignons are dry, full flavored and made to be long lived for many labels. Merlot is one of the leading red varietal wines purchased by Americans today. Americans are expanding their preference for the flavors and aromas of raspberry, plum, and rose that are maybe found in Pinot Noir. Sauvignon Blanc wines have a range of unique tastes ranging from citrus, green olive with a range of fruit flavors, including green apple, grapefruit, pineapple, fig and melon. Until recently, Zinfandel was California's mystery grape because its origins were unknown. In the mid-1990s DNA fingerprinting confirmed that the Primitivo and Zinfandel grapes were genetically identical, but not a 100% match. There are clonal differences between the Zinfandel grown in California and the Primitivo in Italy. A newcomer to the California wine scene, Syrah has gained in popularity only in the last decade. Syrah is a wine grape variety that can produce some long lived red wines. The usual aroma and flavor include blackberry, black pepper, smoke, as well as dry, dark and tannic. There are many more California wine varietals available, but those described are the seven main varieties which are the most popular.

Millions of people visit California wine country every year to visit wineries, sample California wines, and enjoy the magnificent scenery. A wine tour is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with California wines and to see the interesting wine making process from beginning to end.

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