IT’S TIME to grab a
glass of wine from the
Golden State and celebrate California Wine
Month. During September, California
vintners and growers
are recognized for their
tireless year-round efforts to blend the perfect wine in each bottle they produce.
There’s a lot to celebrate. California
has more than ;,;;; wineries and over
;;;,;;; acres planted to wine grapes. In
fact, two-thirds of all table wine shipped in
the country comes from California. The
state features ;;; designated wine-growing regions, called American Viticultural
Areas (AVA), so there are plenty of wineries and wines to explore.
Here’s a look at some of my California
favorites, which I’ll greatly enjoy sampling
It’s only ;; miles long and a few miles
wide, but Napa Valley has become
California’s most famous wine region—not
only in the U.S., but around the world. Napa
wines are big and robust in flavor, and
highly regarded by most wine collectors.
Many vintners have committed to
growing the best cabernet sauvignon in ;;
distinctive AVAs. Rutherford AVA wines
tend to display a sour red cherry note, along
with a signature dusty characteristic. An
elegant tannin structure can be found in
the Oakville AVA’s rich, bold and powerful
wines. And the Stags’ Leap AVA can provide beautiful aromatics, often with dark
berry fruit flavors and silky tannins.
Merlot and white varietals such as
chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are also
grown throughout Napa Valley. With over
;;; wineries, the area has become one of
the most popular tourist attractions in
wine country, bringing more than ;.; mil-
lion visitors each year.
West of Napa Valley, over the
Mayacamas Mountains, lies Sonoma
Valley, a laid-back wine-growing region
with several back roads that ramble past
stunning vineyards and countryside.
Sonoma Valley is fairly widespread, with
;; AVAs and over ;;; wineries. The region
offers a large selection of wines, from the
luscious pinot noirs and elegant chardonnays grown in the Russian River Valley
AVA, to gnarly, old-vine zinfandels from
the Dry Creek Valley AVA, to the fruity and
plush cabernet sauvignons and merlots in
the Alexander Valley AVA.
Numerous wineries here are dedicated
to sparkling wine, and many produce
exceptional sparklers, using the traditional
method developed in Champagne, France.
Santa Barbara County
Central California boasts fabulous
AVAs throughout, with Santa Barbara
County containing seven AVAs and more
than ;;; wineries. This scenic coastal wine
region has wide-ranging temperature
swings from morning into the evening. The
steady influence of ocean air helps moderate the temperatures to harvest beautiful
Burgundian-style pinot noirs, elegant chardonnays and crisp, fresh sauvignon blancs.
About two hours north of Santa
Barbara, the rolling hills of Paso Robles—
once known as cowboy country—are now
home to red grapes and over ;;; wineries.
The region produces more than ;; percent
red grape varietals within its ;; AVAs.
Search for jammy, wild brambleberry
Ca lifor nia!
Celebrate the Golden State in September
FOR YOUR TABLE
FEATURED AT COSTCO
Daou Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County
Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon,
J. Lohr South Ridge Syrah, Paso Robles
Fess Parker Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir,
zinfandels with plush tannins or big, bold
cabernet sauvignons. Paso Robles excels at
producing full-bodied Rhône blends, which
include syrah and grenache. In addition,
Italian varietals add a bit of interest with
high acidity in nebbiolo and sangiovese.
It’s spectacular to see the California
wine industry in its glory. Local wineries
offer special tastings, food and wine pair-ings, and harvest festivities to promote
their areas. You say your plans don’t call for
a wine tour in September? Don’t despair:
Bring California to your home. Pick up a
bottle or two of California wine during
your next visit to Costco, and raise a glass
to the vintners and gro wers for the fruits of
their labor. Cheers, California! C
Annette Alvarez-Peters oversees Costco’s
wine, beer and spirits program.
California is home to more than 4,400 wineries, producing two-thirds of all table wine
shipped in the U.S.