Though less than half a century old, and remarkably young compared to its European counterparts, the wine industry in California has managed to enchant the country’s wine buying public as well as receive accolades from “across the pond.” This may be because of two realities. First is the undeniable quality of the wines—remarkably fruity, full and satisfying, rarely too austere or tannic to be savored from the first day. The second is the “buy American” angle. A very high number of American wine buyers simply prefer domestic to foreign wines.
The state plays host to an enormous range of microclimates and soils as well as a lot of sunshine, hot summer days and dry harvests. All these factors contribute to healthy ripe fruits that make European producers, in less dependable climates, green with envy. More than three out of every four years, California’s best sites produces excellent wines.
The U.S. is not protectionist when it comes to taxing imported wines compared to many other countries, but the California wine industry is inherently protected because of consumers wanting to buy American.
To most people, the Napa Valley is the home of California wine, and Cabernet is the clear king in Napa. Burgundy varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have moved to cooler areas, for the most part closer to the Pacific. This includes the western stretches of Sonoma County, the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, and the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez valleys of Santa Barbara County. In regions as contrasting as Mendocino County, the Sonoma coast, Carneros, Paso Robles, and Santa Maria Valley, Syrah vines have yielded interesting wines. Excellent Zinfandel is also produced all over the state and may be the only California wine emulated abroad.
Vinous, 93 points: The 2013 Pinot Noir Ryan Widdoes Vineyard is one of the more precise, delineated wines in the range this year. Brisk and chiseled to the core, the 2013 offers lovely translucence, expressive aromatics and sculpted fruit...
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: This
new project from Steve and Chrystal Clifton from
Palmina and formerly Brewer-Clifton is exciting
and tasty. Plump red cherry, fine-grained clove, allspice,
nutmeg, sage, kola nut and a touch of chile
Connoisseur's Guide, 92 points: Claiming a little more power and punch as the things that set it slightly apart from its mates but no less deep and specific in its well-defined fruit, this weighty, generously filled working steps out as the boldest of...
Burghound, 91 points: Cool and restrained red currant, cherry, menthol and anise scents lead to energetic and intense flavors that also retain good definition before concluding in a moderately firm, delicious and beautifully complex finale...
Wine Enthusiast, 93 points: All manners of sultry hibiscus greet the nose on this wine from Doug Margerum's cool-climate brand, alongside scents of crushed peppercorns, strawberry juice and a slightly barnyard smoked meat element. The palate shows...
Vinous, 91 points: The 2013 Pinot Noir Two Brothers is pretty, floral and lifted, all qualities that make it quite appealing for near and medium-term drinking. Crushed flowers, sweet red berries and cinnamon are all given an extra kick of...
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Thank you for the years of great service and wine selections!
-Jim H., April 2017