Ag Elsewhere – California

Photo and Description By Lainey Smith 

The long awaited holiday season is here!

December gets me daydreaming. Christmas music plays on repeat (chestnuts roasting, anyone?), apple cider becomes a necessary staple and I start frequenting the grocery store wine isle to stock up on my favorite cabernet. The holiday season plays a part in my warmest memories and favorite traditions.

As I start a life away from the place I grew up, the holidays become ever more important. I can’t wait to visit the hometown I couldn’t wait to move away from. My family will gather around a crackling fire to laugh, tell stories and try a glass of each other’s favorite wine. I will reminisce with old friends and attend Christmas parties, where a wide selection of red and whites will surely be in supply, and I will reminisce on another year lived, glass in hand.

I do not fancy myself a sommelier, but I enjoy tasting different wines from different labels. Chances are, the full-bodied glass of Pinot Noir that tastes like a Bordeaux special is actually a gem from my home state. With three out of every five bottles poured in the United States reigning from the Golden State, the holiday season brings the California wine industry into the spotlight.

The merlot you sip on at the office party or the sparkling white that starts your mimosa on Christmas morning may sport a “CA” on their labels. California accounts for 90 percent of wine grape production in the United States. California is the fourth leading wine producer in the world, after France, Italy and Spain. Compared to Hill Country, California produces 783 million gallons of wine per year, while Texas produces a little over one million gallons.

It’s not just Napa that gets the wine tasting action. California is host to six distinct wine growing regions. The North Coast, which consists of Napa Valley and Sonoma, the most commonly known and produces almost half of the state’s wine grapes. However, the Central Coast, which consists of the wine tasting Mecca Paso Robles, is gaining popularity amongst growers. The largest and third largest wineries in the world are located in the Central Valley. Ever wonder why Credence Clearwater Revival was stuck in Lodi again? There was plenty to drink! The remaining wine grapes are grown in the Gold Rush region of the Sierra Foothills, Southern California’s Los Angeles region and the Far North region of Mt. Shasta.

To read more pick up a copy of the December 2018 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.