There are over 100 grape varieties grown in California, from Zinfandel to Chardonnay to Pinot Noir to Mondeuse to Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s no surprise that with such geological and climatic diversity, California is home to such an array of cultivars. Whether they arrived by way of immigration, mavericks packing cuttings in suitcases, or modern-day producers rearing new clones in nurseries, these varieties have developed their own distinct identities in California.
Here you will find comprehensive profiles on these grape varieties: how and where they are grown, what happens at the winery, what to expect from the finished wines, and an inspiring menu of food pairings compiled by leading California sommeliers and restaurateurs.
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the United States, most widely planted (9% of US vineyards), and it excels in the Golden State.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted winegrapes in the world and is produced in a broad range of styles and flavors.
Pinot Gris -- or Pinot Grigio, depending on geography and interpretation -- has become a global wine juggernaut.
Viognier is a rare and idiosyncratic grape. Its flavors are at once exotic and provocative.
The white grape responsible for some of the greatest wines in the world has a devoted, but decidedly niche audience.
Chenin Blanc (ˈshe-nən-ˈbläŋk) has fallen in and out of favor so many times that you could be forgiven if you haven’t had the chance to try this wonderfully multifaceted grape.
Muscat (ˈmə-ˌskat) is, in this author’s opinion, the most difficult singular grape variety to write about for these guides.
Cabernet is indeed a wine of kings and, for many, the king of wines. It is the most popular red wine in the United States, most widely planted, and seminal to California’s wine industry.
Merlot has been present as a varietal on American store shelves and wine lists for less than 50 years!
Named after the pinecone shape of the grape bunches, Pinot Noir has been cultivated in Burgundy since the first century AD. However, the first documented mention of Pinot Noir as a named variety in Burgundy does not occur till 1345.
The most important grape of France's Northern Rhône Valley and the red variety that drives the wine industry of Australia.
Prior to its study, Zinfandel was known as California’s mystery grape.
ln the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, local vintners like to say that Barolo and Barbaresco (each made from Nebbiolo grapes) are for selling, and Barbera is for drinking.
Australian Grenache, the country's number two grape (after Shiraz), makes and contributes to many of the country's best red wines.
Malbec makes great wines anywhere in the country. There may be regional differences, but the results are always good