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California (ES)
Califórnia (PO)
California (GB)
Californie (F)
California (I)
Californië (N)

California can be considered the mother country of viticulture in the United States describe. It also rightly bears the beautiful epithet "Wine State" because wine is an important economic factor here. The Spanish sold the Spanish variety in the 16th century Listán Prieto in Mexico one that was called Misión here and later in California Mission. In 1769 the Franciscan monk had Junipero Serra (1713-1784) allegedly planted the first vineyard with this vine when the “San Diego” mission in California was founded (according to a newer source, only ten years later). There were no major difficulties here as on the east coast of the Atlantic, because the dry climate prevented fungal diseases and the vines prospered splendidly. The wines were then made in a rather primitive way; a contemporary report provides clear information: a cow skin filled with mashed grapes hung between two trees ( wineskin ) in which the fermentation took place. At the bottom was a stopper that you simply pulled out to fill a mug of wine.

Mostly, the Mission wine was distilled into schnapps and the Spriten of the remaining wine used. Around the year 1833 a Frenchman with the symbolic name Jean-Louis planted Vignes (1780-1862) vines imported from Europe for the first time near Los Angeles. General Mariano Vallejo (1808-1890) was the last Mexican governor of California, who first became independent in 1846 and became the 31st US state four years later in 1850. He had in Sonoma a winery and was the first large-scale winegrower. In 1849, gold fever broke out in California and wine broke out Zinfandel became the favorite drink of the gold miners.

The big breakthrough came from Hungary's Agoston Haraszthy (1812-1869) initiated from 1860, the winery in Sonoma Buena Vista Winery founded and introduced hundreds of European grape varieties. In the immediate vicinity, the German Jacob Gundlach founded a winery that was named 1973 Gundlach-Bundschu was reactivated. Another pioneer was Charles from Prussia jug (1825-1892) who died in St. Helena in Napa Valley in 1861 Charles Krug Winery founded and trained young winemakers. Born in France Paul Masson (1859-1940) became famous with his sparkling wine in 1892 and was called the "Champagne King of California". By the end of the 19th century, a diverse wine culture with high quality wines from imported European Vinifera varieties developed.

Around 1880 the University of California founded a wine research center in Berkeley, which later became Davis. A million hectoliters of wine were produced in 1890. The Phylloxera disaster from 1880 destroyed many vineyards, but they were rebuilt. But the prohibition (1920-1933) brought the total decline of American wine culture. A revolution only began in the 1950s. It started with small wineries that experimented with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and French oak barrels. The pioneers who were largely responsible for the recovery were Robert Mondavi (1913-2008), who founded his first winery in Oakville in the Napa Valley in 1966, and Joe Heitz (1919-2000). Both were created by the famous enologist André Tchelistcheff (1901-1994) supported. The high quality of California wines was also confirmed by an already legendary wine tasting ( Paris Wine Tasting ) approved.

California is divided into five major winegrowing regions, but they are by no means congruent with the climate regions listed below. The regions are divided into political counties (provinces) with several each AVA areas are divided. But these can also go beyond the political county boundaries, as is the case with Wild Horse Valley (Counties Napa and Solano) and Los Carneros (Counties Napa and Sonoma):

Central Coast : The region covers around 25,000 hectares of vineyards. It forms a 560 km long strip from the north south of San Francisco Bay to Los Angeles in the south.

Central Valley (Delta & Inland): The huge region covers 140,000 hectares of vineyards for wine grapes, as well as another 80,000 hectares for table grapes and raisin production. Three quarters of California's wine comes from here.

North Coast : The region covers 50,000 hectares of vineyards. It forms a 160 km long and 80 km wide strip from San Francisco Bay up to Mendocino. Among other things, the most famous wine growing area is located here, the Napa Valley,

Sierra Foothills : The region between the Central Valley and the Rocky Mountains was once very important. Today it covers only 2,100 hectares of vineyards.

South Coast : The wine-less region is between the two cities of Los Angeles in the north and San Diego on the Mexican border in the south.

terraced vineyards in the Napa Valley

The vineyards stretch over 1,000 kilometers along the coast of the Pacific. There are more different ones soil types than in any other famous wine region in the world. Alone in the barely 50 kilometers long Napa Valley there are over 30. The most important wine-growing regions are on the same latitude as southern Spain and southern Italy. One of the variants for the naming is that the Spaniards gave the hot country the apt name "Caliente Fornella", in German "hot stove" (but the origin is also a beautiful Amazon queen named Califia, a novel character of the Spaniard Montalvo). But especially along the coast, the warmth of the sun is significantly reduced by the cool winds and fog of the Pacific. There is hardly any rainfall between April and September, so artificial in many vineyards irrigation must be done. The climates in California are very different, so extensive analyzes were carried out as early as the 1930s.

At the University of California in Davis the scientist Albert J. Winkler (1894-1989) a division into five climatic regions or zones on the basis of a so-called Temperature sum system created and then officially introduced in 1944 as a classification system. As a basis for this, all daily average temperatures are measured from April 1 to October 31. All values above 50 ° Fahrenheit (10 ° C) are added together and result in the “degree days”. For example, if the average temperature over a total of 130 days was 70 ° F, the heat factor would be 70 minus 50 x 130 (days) = 2,600. It should be noted that the Rainfall are not taken into account. Recommendations for varieties. documents and education forms output. The best dry wines are produced in regions I, II and III, regions IV and V are mainly for alcohol-enriched wines, table grapes and raisins suitable. However, it should be noted that this system is not without controversy. The five climate regions are:

Region I - heat factor up to 2,500 degree days
Comparable to Moselle. Burgundy. Loire and Champagne, Particularly suitable for the Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. This includes e.g. B. Carneros and Mendocino (North Coast); Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey (Central Coast).

Region II - heat factor 2,501 to 3,000 degree days
Comparable to Bordeaux and Piedmont, Particularly suitable for the varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Nebbiolo and Zinfandel. The best dry wines come from here. These include e.g. B. the southern Napa Valley and Sonoma (North Coast).

Region III - heat factor 3,001 to 3,500 degree days
Comparable to Rhone and Tuscany, Particularly suitable for Grenache Noir (Garnacha Tinta), Sangiovese and Syrah. This includes e.g. B. the northern Napa Valley.

Region IV - heat factor 3,501 to 4,000 degree days
Comparable to Central Spain, Most of these include Central Valley and San Diego County (South Coast).

Region V - heat factor over 4,000 degree days
Comparable to Greece and Tunisia, These include parts of the Central Valley.

The wine law is quite simple and gives producers a lot of leeway. There are far fewer restrictions than in Europe. Among others, are banned in the EU Vinification techniques such as Spinning cone column or adding aromatic Oak extracts and various flavorings allowed or allowed.

The varietals (Varietal wines) make up the majority of the production. They must contain at least 75% of the specified grape variety. For cuvées there is the special Californian term Meritage, The Generics (Generic wines) have a designation of origin. If a county is named, 75% of the wine must come from there. If an AVA is mentioned, it must be 85% and if a vineyard or location is mentioned 95%. The previously common but incorrect naming of European designations of origin such as Burgundy, Chablis, Chianti, Sherry, Port and Rhine is now not due to the wine trade agreement signed in December 2005 between the EU and the USA, at least for new wine brands more permissible (see under the corresponding section in the keyword wine law ).

After the Second World War the University of California extensive field tests made, suitable rootstocks to find. In the early 1960s, Davis recommended the pad AxR 1 (see there in detail) in coastal areas, which was also done on a large scale. This turned out to be a big mistake, because this document was only moderately phylloxera-resistant. The comeback of phylloxera occurred in the 1980s and caused huge damage to the California vineyards. This was a disaster on the one hand, but it offered the chance to replace unwanted stocks.

In 2012 the vineyard area totaled 320,000 hectares, around 200,000 hectares are used for viticulture. Of this, 18 million hectoliters of wine were produced (see also under Wine production volumes ). The rest is used for the production of table grapes and (as the world's leading producer) raisins, There is a large variety of varieties with many specially created for the Californian conditions new varieties, Around 40% of the vineyards are planted with white wine and 60% with red wine. The Chardonnay only got to the top in the last 20 years. The most common variety Thompson Seedless ( Sultana ) occupied over 80,000 hectares, but almost exclusively for the production of raisins be used. The Blend of the wine varieties 2010 (Statistics Kym Anderson ):



Synonyms or name in California


Chardonnay White - 38555
Cabernet Sauvignon red - 31,000
Merlot red - 18,924
Tribidrag red Zinfandel 19,000
Pinot Noir red - 15091
Colombard White French Colombard 10,000
Syrah red - 7803
Sauvignon Blanc White - 6000
Pinot gris White - 5223
Olmo grapes red - 4556
Chenin Blanc White - 2923
Durif red Petite Sirah, Petite Syrah 2664
Barbera red - 2500
Garnacha Tinta red Grenache Noir 2497
Ruby Cabernet red - 2425
Riesling White - 1550
Cabernet Franc red - 1408
mazuelo red Carignane 1373
Muscat d'Alexandrie White Muscat of Alexandria 1285
Viognier White - 1200
Sangiovese red - 800
Gewurztraminer / Traminer White Gewurztraminer 700
Petit Verdot red - 700
Muscat Blanc / muscatel White - 650
Cot red Côt, Malbec 600
Malvasia Bianca di Piemonte White Malvasia Bianca 554
Monbadon White Burger 498
Alicante Henri Bouschet red - 400
Tempranillo red - 387
Monastrell red Mataro 380
Sémillon White - 360
Symphony red - 324
Carnelian red - 316
Listán Prieto red - 265
Triplet Blanc White - 244
Pinot Blanc White - 220
Chambourcin red - ?
Seyval Blanc White - ?

In the middle of the 20th century there were only 25 winegrowers, today there are well over 2,000, some of them very small. The 25 largest producers produce around 90% of the wine volume. Well-known producers are Abreu. Almaden Vineyards. Araujo. Beaulieu Vineyard. Beringer. Bronco Wine Company (with the Charles Shaw brand), Buena Vista Winery. Chalone Vineyard. Charles Krug Winery. Chateau Montelena. Clos du Bois. Clos Du Val Winery. Concannon. Dominus Estate. Fetzer. Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Freemark Abbey Winery. Gallo. Grgich Hills. Gundlach-Bundschu. Hanzell. Heitz. Inglenook Winery (formerly Niebaum-Coppola and Rubicon), Iron horse. Jordan. Kendall-Jackson. Kenwood. Korbel. Krankl Manfred. Marimar Estate. Martha's Vineyard. Louis M. Martini. Paul Masson. Mayacamas Vineyards. Mondavi. Opus One. Joseph Phelps. Pine Ridge. Ridge Vineyards. Screaming Eagle. Sebastiani. Simi Winery. Spring Mountain Vineyard. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. Sutter Home and Wine Group (Franzia). More are listed in the areas (AVA's).

California wine regions

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