California is White Hot: 4 Regions to Know

Jul. 12, 2017

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Consumers can’t get enough of California wine. Just look at the data:

  • California is the fourth leading wine producer in the world — falling only behind famed wine countries France, Italy and Spain.
  • The Golden State accounts for 85% of the wine production in the United States, with wine sales hitting a new record last year at 238 million cases and a retail value of $34.1 billion.
  • According to Nielsen, California white wines are up as whole, with the leading varietal being Sauvignon Blanc at +4.9%.
  • Chardonnay leads the charge for off-premise sales, accounting for a 20% share of cases —making it the most popular varietal of both red and white wines.

During the summer months, consumers crave lighter-bodied wines, and California’s crisp white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc deliver.

As Chardonnay is an incredibly versatile grape, it can really run the gamut in terms of style —even two Chardonnays both from California can be strikingly different. Some of the most well-known California Chardonnays are full-bodied, with intense stone fruit and citrus flavors and are heavily oaked.

Sauvignon Blancs from California can range from unoaked to heavily oaked. They are higher in acidity and lighter bodied than California Chardonnays, with highlighted herbaceous characteristics.

Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc aren’t the only white wines from California, of course. The state boasts an abundance of white grape varietals, which is no surprise, seeing as there are 4,700 wineries, 5,900 wine grape growers and 602,000 acres of wine grapes in California alone. Wine grapes are grown in 49 out of the state’s 58 counties across a total of 108 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

With so many AVAs, it can be daunting to navigate the world of California wine, but here are four top winegrowing regions to know.

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Sonoma County

Region: The North Coast
Notable AVAs: Russian River Valley, Los Carneros, Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill
Notable white wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Napa County

Region: The North Coast
Notable AVAs: Los Carneros, Rutherford, Stags Leap District, Howell Mountain, Oakville
Notable white wines: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc

Monterey County

Region: Central Coast
Notable AVAs: Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Chalone
Notable white wines: Chardonnay

Mendocino County

Region: The North Coast
Notable AVAs: Anderson Valley, Mendocino
Notable white wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc


From grapefruit to green apple, acidic to creamy, there’s a California white for every consumer! Talk to your Breakthru Sales Consultant today about our California white wine portfolio.


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