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The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries

The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries

Charles E. Olken
Joseph Furstenthal
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries
    Book Description:

    For this powerful successor to his best-selling guide to California wine, Charles E. Olken has joined forces with Joseph Furstenthal to craft The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries. An encyclopedia, atlas, and buying guide combined in one comprehensive, authoritative work, this new guide delivers information and guidance that is not available in any other place. From first page to last, it is geared towards a wide range of consumers, yet also offers the depth and detail that made its predecessor one of the most frequently referenced works by wine educators and industry insiders. Now organized geographically into eight wine regions, the guide has been completely rewritten and expanded to provide the most current information on the state’s evolving wine industry—its history, grapes, winemaking, terminology, geography, and leading wineries.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94726-9
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-X)
    (pp. XI-XIV)
    Charles E. Olken
    (pp. XV-XVIII)

    • A Brief History of Wine in California
      (pp. 3-16)

      More than two hundred years after Spanish missionaries brought vine cuttings with them from Mexico’s Baja California and established the first of the California missions in San Diego, researchers at Madrid’s National Biotechnical Center, using DNA techniques, have traced those first vines back to a black grape that seems to be a dark-colored relative of the Palomino grape still in use for the production of Sherry. That humble beginning may not seem like it would have much to do with today’s burgeoning wine industry, but the fact is that the Mission variety became the vine of choice in California as...

    • How Wine Is Made
      (pp. 17-26)

      It is a truism that wine is made in the vineyard, and that other truism—it takes great grapes to make great wine—is also beyond dispute. Yet, when one sees professional winemakers coming up with dramatically different results from the same vineyard sources, it also becomes true and patently obvious that the hand of the winemaker is the key ingredient in bringing out the personality that is hidden in the fruit. Winemaking is part craft and part art, and it is only when the two are combined to very good effect that great wine can be made. It is...

    • Grape and Wine Types
      (pp. 27-60)

      There was a time when wine labels did not focus on grape varieties, but that was when Chardonnay was grown almost exclusively in Burgundy, Chenin Blanc almost exclusively in the Loire, Syrah almost exclusively in the northern Rhône, and nothing of note in the United States, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, or anywhere else except so-called native varieties. The change came about slowly at first. Winegrowing expanded to new places without history and without rules, and the wines had to be called something. At first, they were identified with names that reflected the European territory of the grapes used....


    • Mendocino and Lake Counties
      (pp. 63-84)

      These seemingly faraway places up in redwood country have long been home to a small but important wine industry. Mendocino more than Lake perhaps, but the truth is that folks have known for a century and more that good wine can grow in both of these destinations. Now, with its neighbors to the south in Napa and Sonoma counties having become very heavily planted, exceptionally expensive, and beginning to run out of land for further expansion, Mendocino and Lake counties have taken on new prominence as sources of high-quality wine.

      Sufficiently removed from the urban centers of Northern California to...

    • Sonoma County
      (pp. 85-164)

      “Number two and trying harder” might be the slogan of the grape-growing, winemaking community in Sonoma County. For years, indeed for almost all of the time that California has been in the wine business, Sonoma County has found itself eclipsed by someone else. Yes, one can point to the early days of Count Agoston Haraszthy’s 1850 plantings and suggest that Sonoma had more and better grapes and a bigger place in the California wine hierarchy a century and a half ago. It was not long, however, before Napa County took the lead in wine quality, and by the time we...

    • Napa County
      (pp. 165-286)

      Most winegrowing counties in California manage to have their own countywide personality, even where the territories included in the county as a whole are so disparate as to have little to do with one another from a grape-growing perspective. Napa County is a little bit different in that regard. Because virtually every grape grown in the county has historically been able to use the “Napa Valley” tag on its label, the notion of Napa County has all but been overwhelmed by the power of the Napa Valley name. And so it is that the valley lying between two sets of...

    • San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains, and Solano County
      (pp. 287-310)

      People who live in northern California know that the termBay Areaincludes nine counties in and around San Francisco, the much-loved “City by the Bay.” San Francisco Bay has now been adopted as the name under which several grape growing counties (San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara), plus parts of San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties to the east and south of San Francisco have joined together to form the San Francisco Bay American Viticultural Area. Excluded from the AVA are areas to the north, including Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties. However, for purposes...

    • Monterey and San Benito Counties
      (pp. 311-328)

      It was not so long ago, certainly within what we now think of as the present day for the wine industry, that these side-by-side counties would be mentioned in one breath—and, more often than not, that breath might well put San Benito first among them. That was in the days when coastal vineyards were transitioning to cool-weather sites and grapes, and jug wine production was leaving Sonoma and Napa for less expensive and far more fertile lands in California’s Central Valley. The great expansion of wine interest and the resulting planting boom of the 1970s changed the landscape for...

    • San Luis Obispo County
      (pp. 329-344)

      San Luis Obispo County has become home to almost every variety of grape grown in California—and for good reason. Its arrays of microclimates from very cool to very warm support varieties that are to be made into Sparkling Wine in locations that receive a fair degree of coastal influence and those that want a fair bit of heat, like Syrah and the other Rhône varieties and also Zinfandel. It is not a stretch to suggest that San Luis Obispo County presents the broadest array of climatic conditions of any major wine county. Somewhere between the extremes, the county also...

    • Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties
      (pp. 345-366)

      The wines being produced in these counties are very much influenced by the placement of their vineyards that are near the Pacific Ocean. Even with the recent emergence of grape growing in areas back from the coast in the Santa Barbara County enclaves of Happy Canyon and the Cuyama Valley, it is grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that are the prime focus of the wineries here. Syrah is making strong inroads because of that grape’s ability to grow in cool climates as well as in more moderate climes, but one has to get away from the coast to find...

    • Sierra Foothills
      (pp. 367-380)

      It is almost impossible to live in California and not be in love with the Sierra Foothills. It is the most relaxed, scenic, accessible pathway to California’s rustic, romantic past, and whether one goes up out of the flatlands to swim and hike or to visit the home of the Gold Rush or to forage in the endless supply of antiques shops in small towns that look like they have not changed since the gaslight era, the Sierra Foothills is a place of endless allure and, not insignificantly, boasts a small but important supply of good, hearty wine and some...

    • The Rest of California
      (pp. 381-402)

      California wine is most often associated with the famous coastal counties and their revered valleys, and to a lesser extent with the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. However, there is enormous wine acreage and the greater portion of all grapes crushed found in the less well-known places that spread up and down the state’s Central Valley and in important if isolated pockets near and also south and east of Los Angeles. By itself, the Central Valley, with grapes stretching from Bakersfield to Redding and beyond, contains 50 percent of all the grapevines in California; and this valley grows, because...

    (pp. 403-414)
    (pp. 415-432)
    (pp. 433-436)
    (pp. 437-442)
    (pp. 443-455)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 456-457)