Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five More Things to Love About California Wine

There are plenty of reasons to love California wine. TNTC, as microbiologists might say (too numerous to count). For those lucky enough to live in California, there’s probably a winery within easy driving distance. If not, you’re still likely to find a Golden State bottle worth a pop at your neighborhood grocer, not to mention the great prices and choices that abound at wine boutiques and big-box warehouses. 

Kenneth Volk wines from Santa Barbara and Paso Robles include many rare heirloom varieties. 

With only a week left in September, designated by the Wine Institute as California Wine Month, you can still find wine events worth attending up and down the state. If you'd rather stay put, tap into your wine stash or drop by a favorite California wine seller to enjoy a more intimate taste of California wine.

No matter where you choose to sop up all that California goodness, here are five more things to love about California wine, listed in no particular order.

How green are our valleys?
California wineries and vineyards have embraced sustainability with 1,800 now participating in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Altogether, they represent nearly three-quarters of all winegrape acreage and case production. Consumer choice is also driving greater sustainability efforts. A recent study showed that one in three wine consumers considers the environmental or sustainable impact of the wines they purchase.

We are family
The vast majority of the state’s 3,800 bonded wineries – up from 1,700 in 2002 – are family-owned businesses. They have the stories, and the drama, to prove it.
Show us the money
California winegrowing activities have a huge impact on economic metrics, whether you count dollars-and-cents, tourism, employment or all of the above. More than 330,000 California jobs and 820,000 jobs nationwide are linked to California wine production. The Wine Institute’s 2012 California wine profile reported a statewide economic impact of $61.5 billion, which soars to nearly $122 billion on a national scale. 

Variety, volume and value
California winegrapes are sourced from 116 diverse winegrowing regions or American Viticultural Areas. By next year, there may be 11 additional AVAs drawn from the Paso Robles appellation alone. Beyond regional differences, the state’s winegrowers aren’t content to stay with the top white and red varieties, Chardonnay and Cabernet. California grows more than 25 white grape varieties and another 35-plus types of red grapes. Catarratto or Negrette, anyone?

2012: Another great California vintage
Despite climate change, California wines tend to show less vintage-to-vintage
variation than those from other parts of the world, be they from Old or New World regions.  California’s 2012 vintage was marked by an ideal growing season. The result was a larger grape harvest than the low-yielding 2011 crush from that chilly and more extreme vintage. Abundant sunshine in 2012 gave grapes what they needed to achieve excellent ripeness while the benign weather allowed flavor development that drinkers will appreciate in balanced and structured wines with excellent concentration.

We can all look forward to drinking to that.

With thanks to all California wine growers, pickers, producers, bottlers, makers, scientists, tillers, testers, retailers, publicists, supporters, drinkers, sommeliers, educators, writers, tasting room staff, cellar rats and everyone in between.