We all know that California is top dog in the United States wine production game and the reason that we’ve hung onto our place in the Top 5 wine producing countries in the world. It’s easy to understand why this is, California had a wide variety of climates and geographical typography across the large state. According to the Wine Institute, California is home to 2,843 wineries, 4,600 wine-grape growers, and grows more than 110 wine-grape varietals. Just looking at those numbers we can all discern that California knows what its doing with wine production, and it’s doing a lot of it.
According to Forbes, in the last few recorded years of wine production and consumption numbers the top producers (France and Italy) are seeing a slow decrease in both categories while the United States is seeing a steady increase. Along with China and Australia, more of us are regularly purchasing and drinking wine than in years before. The interesting fact about wine production in all countries is that nearly 40% of the product yielded is exported to other countries! Nearly half of the wine produced in a country is then shipped elsewhere, this is a unique characteristic that is really only seen with wine.
While we’re all about you drinking whatever wine you like, just as long as you’re drinking some wine now and then, we have a case to make for choosing California and West Coast wines more often. We could boast the prowess and prestige of the Napa Valley Cabernet, or applaud the perfection of California’s Chardonnay grapes, or argue that the Willamette Valley could beat the Rhone Valley in an arm wrestling match. Instead of going for the obvious reasons why West Coast wine is the best, we feel the following are even better arguments for our US wine beyond the flavors.
While California may not be “local” to you per se, it is local in relative terms. The California wine industry supplies over 820,000 jobs in the United States, and only 330,000 of them are in California proper. In these trying economic times, we know the importance of buying from and supporting local small businesses and the wine industry is certainly no exception. Sure, there are corporately owned wineries that mass produce wine at alarming levels, but for every one of those there are several independent growers trying to make it as well. Do a little research, spend your money wisely, and help keep the industry strong and diverse.
California boasts the most sustainable and environmentally conscious wine-making practices in the world.
The California wine community has the most widely adopted green wine-making and growing practice in the world and one of the few that measures and publishes its performance to the public. Sustainable wine-growing guides California’s growers and vintners in producing wine in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner that benefits families, employees, communities, wildlife, the soils, air, and water that make the region’s wines so iconic. While the green approach isn’t practiced across the board just yet, the trend is definitely spreading rapidly. A quick Google search of the bottle you’re thinking of grabbing will tell you if they are a green grower or not.
The more California wine you drink, the stronger our wine trade with other countries becomes.
Going back to the aforementioned point about 40% of wine being exported to other countries, the stronger our California industry gets, the more diverse the wine trade in general will become. I personally really enjoy the idea of an Italian family enjoying a Sonoma County blend over dinner, the same way we might enjoy a Rhone Valley Pinot Noir. Wine is indicative of so much cultural variety and we as wine drinkers love to share in this, the stronger our California wine community is the more we can contribute to the wine trade. (And eventually we’d love to place higher than 4th on the ranking of top wine producers, right??)
California wine standards are extremely high.
Not only is California leading the pack on sustainable wine production efforts, back in the 1970’s California created wine-making innovations that improved wine quality. Flaws that once existed in wines all over the world are now very rare. The highly trained winemakers of California discovered how to prevent these imperfections, and other winemakers followed suit. In terms of fundamental quality, California wines are among the most reliable in the world and this lends to the ability to create wines that taste the same across all bottles of a particular vintage.
Supporting California wineries also supports the fine arts.
More than 100 California wineries feature art galleries or fine art museums; 65 wineries feature restaurants; over 50 present music and theater performances, and 118 offer wine and food pairings. Other amenities include gardens, tours, wine classes and seminars, and unique modern architecture. So when you open up a bottle of California wine, you ensure that not only your money contributes to American jobs and communities, but you’re also keeping artistic endeavors healthy and flourishing.