is the biggest wine region in the United States and it alone is the 4th biggest producer in the world, after France, Italy and Spain. Its wine history dates back to the 17th century, when European vines, imported into Latin America by the Conquistadors, were introduced into California by missionaries.
California is able to produce wine primarily because of the influence of the Pacific Ocean. It has the perfect amount of sunshine for the grapes to ripen and the cool fog along the coastline regulates the high temperatures creating ideal conditions for the production of complex wines.
The California wine country is made up of 6 sub-regions:
- The Far North of California: California's smallest wine producing sub-region.
- North Coast: This sub-region, one of the cooler production areas, is home to over half of California's wineries, the most prestigious of which are found in Napa and Sonoma.
- Central Coast: South of San Francisco, the climate here is fairly mild. Some of the oldest Californian vines are planted here.
- Sierra Foothills: The vineyards, planted over the old mines from the gold rush close to Nevada, produce intensely aromatic wines.
- Inland Valleys: This, the most fertile agricultural area in the world, is the heart of mass production.
- Southern California: Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, this region is home to the highest vineyards in California at 1,300m altitude.
These Californian regions boast of a wide array of grape varieties. But if there is one variety that California has made its own, it is the Zinfandel, a grape from Croatia and known as Primitivo in southern Italy. Zinfandel expresses itself in different ways. From one end of the scale to the other, it can be used in a very popular sweet rosé called "White Zinfandel" or a powerful, meaty red with over 16% vol. However, the best reds release aromas of raspberry jam and black pepper or wild blackberries and spices. It all comes down to how and where the vine is grown.
With a great diversity of topography and climate, with some of the most creative wine producers in the world, and with its wide range of varieties, California can be considered a world reference for quality wines.