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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for August 2000

Alban Vineyards

Breaking news...
California Wine Trends


Chardonnay—Monterey with its 15,028 acres has displaced Sonoma County (13,277 acres) as the State Chardonnay leader. Napa lost first place to Sonoma some 20 years ago, and about a decade later Monterey went by it. But while Monterey has the volume, Sonoma and Napa counties still lead it in quality.

Merlot - Hot, hot, hot! Between 1990 and 1995, state acreage doubled. From 1995 to 1999, it DOUBLED AGAIN.

Cabernet Sauvignon - The Napa Valley produces triple the number of superb Cabs than do all the other regions of California combined!

Zinfandel—It remains the most widely-planted red wine grape in the Golden State. Old vines make the better wines.

Grenache—The world's most widely-planted red wine grape gets little respect in California, but plenty of acreage (around 11,000). With increasing interest in Rhone varieties, the name may appear on labels more often in the future. To see what it can do, try John Alban's Edna Valley Grenache.


Author! Author!

These morsels come from just one section of the best current book on California wine...

    California Wine, New Second Edition
    By James Laube of the Wine Spectator
    1999, 646 pages, $40
    700 wineries, over 5,000 wines

If you aren't yet convinced of the value of this book, let's look at one example from each of a few other sections.

Vintages—This has been a good decade. Going back to the 1980s, there was but one five-star vintage, 1985. How many five-star vintages for 1990 through 1997? FIVE!

New American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) - The Feds have given official recognition to the following:

1998—Mendocino Ridge. The first AVA in California to be non-contiguous. It covers 410 square miles, but excludes all land below 1,200 feet. Greenwood Ridge estate vineyard is included.

1999—Chiles Valley. This is a valley within Napa Valley, higher and cooler than the floor of Napa Valley. WineDay has had good luck with the Rustridge products.

1999—San Fancisco Bay Area. Contains over 1.5 million acres from seven counties that have in common the cool Bay Area air. The AVA extends South from the counties of San Francisco and Contra Costa. The jury is out regarding how much it will be used.

Quality Versus Quantity - Laube says, "Robert Mondavi remains the single greatest influence on modern California wine." His Napa winery bottles consistently rate four and five stars. Yet, he also has a winery in the Central Valley, that consistently draws only ONE star for each of its seven wines. So why bother? It looks like most of we consumers don't worry about stars. The Mondavi Woodbridge plant in Lodi sells five MILLION cases a year, and generates more income than any of the other Mondavi operations.

To order the book, Running Press Publishers, (215)567-5O8O FAX (215)568-2919



Where does James keep his 50,000+ tasting notes? At his home in the city of NAPA!


This page created August 2000