The State of the Vine: What’s New in California?

JGrady Select is dedicated to the global pursuit of exotic varietals. In the past, to pursue them, one would need to explore the vineyards of the wine regions of the world. To try a Torrontés wine, you would have to try a wine from Spain or Argentina, the same with Tannat, you would have to try a wine from southwestern France. But, that would have been somewhat difficult since it is hard to find exotic wines in most local wine shops. This conundrum, as perplexing as it is, is changing yearly here in California. Vintners are looking to explore new wine varietals and blends of wines to present to their customers. These exotic wine varietals are being grown in California in ever-growing numbers.

The Central Coast is the epicenter of this new growth of exotic varietals. From Santa Barbara, to Santa Ynez Valley, to San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, more and more international varietals are being grown. They are being propagated in the Sierra Foothills, Monterey, Napa and Sonoma and the North Coast.

In the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey, they are growing Tannat from southwest France and Albariño from Spain.

South Africa’s native varietal, Pinotage, which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault is now being grown in the Sierra Foothills and by some 15 other producers in the state.

Italy, with over 2000 varietals has the greatest proliferation of new varietals in California. Again, with the Central Coast growing the lions share, you can find Arneis, Tocai Fruilliano, Moscato and Malvasia in white varietals. In the red varietals there are Barbera, Delcetto, Lagrein and Nebbiolo, just to name a few.

The Central Coast also is home to the Tannat grape, first brought into California by Tablis Creek Winery and now has cutting growing all over the state. The Vermentino grape from Spain and the newest, a hybridized grape from Germany, called Dornfelder.

Exotic wine varietals are now well established in California and they are rich, inviting and well worth trying. Check out the list at www.jgradyselect.com.

In the next “The State of the Vine” we will talk about the rebirth of indigenous grape varietals in Italy.

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