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.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 96 points: The 2014 Chardonnay is brilliant. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint, almonds and smoke are all beautifully delineated in this transparent, super-finessed Chardonnay built on total finesse. The decision to pick a touch...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley has a dense opaque purple color, a kiss of blackberry and cassis fruit, a full-bodied mouthfeel with ripe tannin and a long finish. It is very Caymus in its immediate accessibility...
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: Aromas of blackberries, walnuts and light wet earth follow through to a full to medium body, light chocolate and a long finish. Refined and polished. Classic style. Better in 2019.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: The 2013 Proprietary Red from Bootleg is a major sleeper of not only the vintage, but in its entire concept. There are just over 8,000 cases of this wine, which has been culled from KJ vineyards on Atlas Peak, Oakville...
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When I ordered 2 bottles of wine for a family members birthday, Kevin Johnson was very professional, personable and helpful. Thank you!
-John S., June 2017