The first country/state/region I'm going to cover for my new 'around the world in every wine' project is the state of California in the United States. Yes, I know that California is not technically a country, but I've decided to divide the United States based on states, because of its unique political landscape. I also plan on dividing up California based on several of its winemaking regions, in addition to France, Italy and perhaps Spain and Australia.
California is one of the most unique winemaking platforms in the world due to several different factors, the first being that the California winemaking industry only really took flight about 30 years ago. Compared to the hundreds (or thousands) of years that places like France and Italy have had in order to make their wine, the success of Californian wines is a sight to behold.
The first vineyard was planted in California in 1779 by monks at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Diego. Gotta hand it to those monks to know what a person really wants, right? Over the next 100 years winemaking grew in California, due largely in part to the California independence movement, as well as the California Gold Rush in the mid 19th century. By 1920 the wine industry was serious wounded, due to both a plague of phylloxera as well as the Prohibition movement, which halted all production and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
However, the years since then have allowed California to blossom and grow as one of the world's leading winemaking platforms for the modern wine industry. California's wines are inherently unique with high elements of berry and warmth. Yummy yummy fruit.
California is divided into three main wine regions: North Coast, Central Coast (where I live) and the Interior/Central Valley. Those sections are also divided up into several sub-regions, including Monterey County (again, where I live), Alexander Valley, Mendocino, Santa Barbara County and, of course, Napa Valley and Sonoma.
California is known for growing a wide variety of grapes, due to the wide variety of climate that California has - however, it's best known for great Cabernets, Chardonnays, Merlots and Pinot Noirs. It can also grow a mean Sauvignon Blanc.
Our first wine entry into the 'atw' will be a mystery California red, from parts unknown and grapes highly speculative. See what happens.
* most of my historical information provided by Exploring Wine, 2nd edition by Koplan, Smith and Weiss ... and, of course, a bit of Wikipedia (but only a bit, I swear!)