California Wine Regions
California has several distinct wine regions due to the diversity of its geography. Each wine region produces unique wines that showcase the climate and soil of its region. Because of the diversity of the regions, those looking to buy a vineyard or winery in California should choose consider the kinds of wine they want to create before picking a location.
The Diversity of California’s Wine Regions
California’s weather shifts dramatically from spots with constant sunshine to mountainous, snowy areas to cool, coastal stretches. But the geographical diversity brings more than a range of weather patterns. Each wine region also has its own soil and terrain, which shapes which varietals will thrive. Grape varieties require different nutrients from the soil, weather, and drainage. Because of this, California wine is extremely particular to the region it comes from. And while some common and hardy varietals grow in multiple regions, the wine produced will nonetheless have different flavors and aromas.
Winemakers looking to become active in California should really consider the kinds of wine they want to create when choosing the location of their next vineyard or winery. Tasting wines from wine regions across California can help winemakers to understand the unique flavors that the state’s terroir can produce. Additionally, if you’re interested in growing a particular kind of grape, you’ll want to keep in mind the areas of the state where those grapes can flourish. If there are multiple areas where the grape varietal you’re interested in can grow, taste wines made from those grapes in each region and consider what flavor and aromas you want the terroir to impart.
Choosing a California Wine Region
When sampling wines from across California to familiarize yourself with the wine regions, you might come across “AVA” on the label of a bottle. AVA means American Viticultural Area. An AVA is a designated wine grape-growing region that is distinguished from other areas by its geographic features. California has over 100 AVAs, including the very well known Napa and Sonoma Valley AVAs. In order for a wine to be labeled with AVA, at least 85% of the grapes used to produce the wine must be grown there. Similarly, if the bottle is marked with a particular California county, at least 75% of the grapes used were grown there. Use these indicators to narrow down which particular areas within California produce wines you’re interested in.
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