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The Golden State Expands Its Range

California may be internationally renowned for its rich, bold red wines and creamy, generous white wines, but it has so much more to offer. From Temecula wineries that are pushing the boundaries of wine in Southern California, to the Napa wineries whose best bottlings can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world, to the Calistoga wineries that have become such sommelier favorites, California wine is as exciting now as it's ever been. The Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel, and beyond are just waiting to be explored, discovered, and savored.

What is California wine?

California wine is any wine that is grown and produced in the Golden State. But, of course, it's so much more than that. When you think of American wine country, California is likely the first state to come to mind. And with good reason: it's the great wineries of California that have arguably done more to raise America's wine industry profile than any others. And with so many wine regions within the state, it has more to offer than it often gets credit for.

What are the different wine-producing regions in California?

California is a notably large state, with borders that stretch from Oregon in the north and Mexico in the south. The landscape encompasses coastal areas influenced by the Pacific (the Sonoma Coast AVA is a good example) and more desert-like regions. There are mountains, valleys, and rivers galore, which all adds up to a range of wine regions as diverse as any in the world. Napa Valley and Sonoma County are arguably the most famous wine regions, but Santa Barbara County and Amador County are coming on strong. The Central Coast is taking a place of increasing importance, too. Paso Robles and Lodi are vibrating with excitement, and then there's Temecula, the Central Valley, and more. The mosaic of wines produced in California's various regions is stunning.

What popular wine styles is California known for?

Rich reds and creamy whites tend to be the most widely known. Still, the fruit-forward and often spicy Pinot Noirs of Sonoma and Santa Barbara and the lush, robust Zinfandels of Dry Creek Valley and the world-class sparkling wines throughout Northern California are not to be missed.

What is California's most famous wine style?

For all of the great wine produced in California, it's the rich, ripe, often bold Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet-based blends of the best Napa Valley wineries that are the most famous. Napa's best wine can compete with the most prestigious in the world, and Napa wineries like Dalla Valle, Harlan, Scream Eagle, and more command astronomical prices on the auction market. Napa vineyards can grow grapes of spectacular complexity and concentration, and the wines crafted from them can be real show-stoppers.

Many Sonoma wineries have had a similar result with their world-class Pinot Noir. While prices haven't quite reached the level of cult Cabernets from Napa, Sonoma's best wine is easily on par with some of the other most important Pinot regions in the world.

What is the best California wine?

This is a matter of personal opinion, but Screaming Eagle commands some of the highest prices, often approaching $6,000 per bottle.

What wines are Napa Valley known for?

Napa is most famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet-based blends and its creamy Chardonnay, but there is excellent Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc produced there, too.

Is Napa or Sonoma better?

Is ketchup or mustard better? Is Friends or Seinfeld better? The question of whether Napa or Sonoma is superior is entirely personal. Generally, however, Cabernet fans tend to prefer Napa, and Pinot lovers often lean more in Sonoma's direction.

What is a California red wine?

Given the diversity of California's wine-producing land, there are countless California red wines. Among the most well-known, however, are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

What are popular wineries in Temecula?

Among the best wineries in Temecula are Callaway, Hart, and Lorimar.

What are popular wineries in Napa Valley?

There are too many to list, but from Oakville and Rutherford to Yountville and St. Helena wineries, Napa is packed with perennial favorites. However, Robert Mondavi, Frank Family Vineyards, Opus One, and Cliff Lede are widely loved.

What are popular wineries in Sonoma?

Sonoma is a sprawling wine region, with standout wineries throughout. B.R. Cohn, Kutch, Buena Vista, Cline, Ceja, and many more have helped make Sonoma a premier source of some of the most important and tasty wines in America.

Browse our full selection of California wines online or check out our selection of highly-rated California wines for a great new wine to try this week!

Want to learn more about California wine?

Visit our Guide to Wine to learn more about wine from California.