California wine facts for kids

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Lightmatter napa valley vinyard
Vineyard in the Napa Valley

California wine is wine made in the U.S. state of California. Almost three quarters the size of France, California accounts for nearly 90 percent of American wine production. The production of wine in California alone is one third larger than that of Australia. If California were a separate country, it would be the world's fourth largest wine producer.

The state's viticultural history dates back to the 18th century when Spanish missionaries planted the first vineyards to produce wine for Mass.

Today there are more than 1,200 wineries in the state, ranging from small boutique wineries to large corporations with distribution around the globe.

History

People first made wine in California in 1769. Missionaries from Mexico brought their wine plants to produce wine for the mass. Later, people coming from Europe improved the making of wine. They had brought their own kinds of wine plants.

Before 1920, there was more wine made every year. Then Prohibition began. During Prohibition, it was not allowed to sell alcoholic drinks in the United States. It almost ended the making of wine in California. Californian wine-making took a long time to recover.

In 1990, the USA sent less than five percent of its wine to other countries. After that, exports of wine from California increased. Today, the USA is one of the big wine industries.

Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon Gaillac
Grapes of Cabernet-Sauvignon

Wine comes in different colors. Most wines are called "red" or "white". White wine is not really white, it just has a very light color. 54 percent of the Californian wines are white wines. Some examples of white wines are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Some examples of red wines are Zinfandel, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

Cool climate viticulture

Grapes for wine used to need warm weather. People wanted to grow more grapes, so they learned how to grow them where the weather was not as warm. That way of growing grapes is called "cool climate viticulture". Vines are now planted in colder places, up to 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level. Monterey County was the first place where that was done.

Wine regions

Barriques Figeac
Wine cellar.

In California, there are more than 800 wine cellars. Wine cellars are big rooms were wine is stored. They are part of a winery, the place where wine is produced.

Two of the most famous growing areas for wine in California are Napa County and Sonoma County. The wines from those places are some of the best in the world. Some examples of the wines made there are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine regions of California are often divided into 4 main regions-

  • North Coast - Includes most of North Coast, California, north of San Francisco Bay. The large North Coast AVA covers most of the region. Notable wine regions include Napa Valley and Sonoma County and the smaller sub AVAs within them. Mendocino and Lake County are also part of this region.
  • Central Coast - Includes most of the Central Coast of California and the area south and west of San Francisco Bay down to Santa Barbara County. The large Central Coast AVA covers the region. Notable wine regions in this area include Santa Clara Valley AVA, Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, San Lucas AVA, Paso Robles AVA, Santa Maria Valley AVA, Santa Ynez Valley AVA Edna Valley AVA Arroyo Grande Valley AVA and Livermore Valley AVA.
  • South Coast - Includes portion of Southern California, namely the coastal regions south of Los Angeles down to the border with Mexico. Notable wine regions in this area include Temecula Valley AVA, Antelope Valley/Leona Valley AVA, San Pasqual Valley AVA and Ramona Valley AVA. Temecula Valley is home to 35 wineries, many of which are open to the public for tastings.
  • Central Valley - Includes California's Central Valley and the Sierra Foothills AVA. Notable wine regions in this area include the Lodi AVA.

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California wine Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.