California produces about 90% of all wine made in America and contains some 1200 producers from boutique to massive global players. Although wine was introduced to California in the 18th Century by Spanish missionaries, the modern industry only dates back to the sixties. The region was put on the wine map when several wines beat their French counterparts in the now-famous Judgment in Paris in 1976.
One of the major contributions it has made to the wine industry is a focus on a grapes physiological ripeness. Rather than pick when the sugars and acids are in balance, most growers like to pick with the seeds are brown and ripe. At this time there is no “”greenness”” remaining in the grape and the tannins are much softer. This makes a style of wine that is easier to drink in its youth and does not require significant bottle aging. The downside is that the sugars are so high at this point that the wines produced from such grapes are much higher in alcohol than they used to be.
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