On California


From Napa to Nebbiolo… Wine Tales from the Golden State

On California captures the essence of California’s spectacular array of wines. Beyond the intricate flavours of Pinot Noir, the power of Cabernet Sauvignon and the elegance of Chardonnay, it asks what brought these wines to the Golden State in the first place. What were the hopes, fears and dreams of the 18th-century pioneers who first shaped them, and what motivates the 21st-century visionaries who pave the way now? It charts the triumph over phylloxera and Prohibition, the mighty influence of the Pacific, and the plus-points of being in a seismic hot zone. Then how, at the whim of one modest English wine merchant, a simple blind tasting in 1976 made the world sit up and notice the wines this extraordinary region was creating. On California tells of the people – as iconic as the wines they’ve created – who have made California wine great. The pioneers, the boffins, the whizz-kids, and the scientists, many of whom tell their stories on its pages – some via precious archive material, others through their thoughts mid-pandemic in 2021. Randall Grahm, Gerald Asher, Steven Spurrier, Paul Draper, and Warren Winiarski take a bow…

On California - From Napa to Nebbiolo… Wine Tales from the Golden State
  • The future of the wines: where will the ‘California spirit’ lead next?
  • The ‘Hollywood Grape’: our authors chart the path of Cabernet Sauvignon from the wish-list of Thomas Jefferson to the hallowed hillsides of Stag’s Leap and Screaming Eagle.
  • 1976? Of course, it was a competition! Steven Spurrier and Patricia Gallagher describe the motivation behind the famous Paris wine tasting.
  • Top New York sommelier Victoria James tells of her near-death introduction to the wacky world of winemaking in Sonoma.
  • Will the real Zinfandel please stand up? Paul Draper seeks out the true heritage of California’s versatile orphan grape.
  • Contributions from Elaine Chukan Brown, Mary Margaret McCamic MW, Karen MacNeil, Esther Mobley, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Liz Thach MW, Clare Tooley MW, and Kelli White. Hugh Johnson, Jane Anson and Fiona Morrison MW, Harry Waugh, Elin McCoy, Rex Pickett, Stephen Brook, George Taber, Dr William Kelley, Jon Bonné, Norm Roby, Bob Thompson, Harry Eyres, Adam Lechmere, Margaret Rand, John Szabo MS, Larry Walker, Brian St Pierre, Natasha Hughes MW.
In case you missed it…

We previously hosted an incredibly insightful webinar with Elaine Chukan Brown about the more obscure wine regions in California. If you were interested but couldn’t make it, never fear! You can watch the recording here.

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