North American Wines
California is still the capital of North American wine production, producing over 90% of the total. The States’ vineyard variation comes not from latitude but from the mountains which lie between the vineyards and the Pacific, preventing the sea air and fog from moderating the climate. Regions like Napa, Sonoma and Carneros are now considered classic, although there are 100 different AVA’s (America Viticultural Areas) in total. Fashion plays an obvious role in a state like California and many of the cult wineries which command four figure price tags per bottle did not even exist in the 1980’s.
In the UK market, the difference between the cheaper ‘jug-wine’ that fills supermarket aisles and the expensive hand-crafted wines from boutique estates could not be more obvious. This has left the market confused about what California really offers, with most of us only experiencing the huge brands which are depleted of quality or regional interest.
However, a downturn in the US economy affecting domestic consumption, combined with a weakening dollar has resulted in an increasing amount of quality wine reaching our shores at an affordable price. We are discovering that this is winemaking heaven and that somewhere between Washington’s Puget Sound and Los Angeles exists the perfect environment for every grape variety that has ever been grown, vinified or bottled.