California’s Central Valley Wine Region

Central Valley Wine Region

As my palate evolved, my interest in Californian wines has expanded, wanting to appreciate both the vintner and the production process. I am interested in sustainable wine practices and am thankful for the wide variety of wine choices. And now with wine regions’ climat changing, I am even more aware of how climate, terroir and winemakers may need to research new techniques in order to produce higher quality wines in the 200-mile long (Tehachapi Mountains south of Bakersfield, north to Fresno County and Madera Wine Trail and up the San Joaquin Valley to the city of Modesto in the north) Central Valley region.

According to the Fresno County Farm Bureau, Thompson grapes are the most common planted variety in vineyards across the Central Valley.

Additionally, Viticulturists in the Valley are exploring additional vine varietal opportunities which provide new options for regional growth. In fact, hot weather grape varieties have been planted similar to the ones in Portugal and Spain.

Hot Central Valley summers have produced wine grapes (Thompson) that are traditionally blended with other grape varietals. However, the Central Valley grown Muscat grape is becoming more popular with the 21-34 age group who enjoy sweet Muscato wine. Yet, some have doubts that this or other varieties can flourish in the inland valley’s hot temperatures. That being said, a 2011 UC-Davis Central Valley wine study shows how the Central Valley‘s value-priced wine production is projected to increase and has developed a niche in the marketplace, especially wines that are meant for blending. While jug wines and table grapes have carried the wine region through the 1980s, Zinfandel, Tempranillo and Viognier, Chardonnay and Merlot have also been planted in the last decade. In addition, the Central Valley has developed Tawny port and dessert wines that have gained a reputation outside of the region.

The Central Valley is one of three California focus wine regions for Tales of the Cork. The other two are the Sierra Nevada Foothills Wine Region and the Central Coast Wine Region. All are within a day trip of my home base of Fresno, Calif. and account for many of America’s most promising wineries and winemakers.

Explore Tales of the Cork with me. Read about the growth and influence of California’s winemakers, merchants and chefs. My goal is to find and develop relationships with them; my hope is to uncover and retell their untold stories. Be sure to leave a comment after each story; share your wine, winemaker or food experience.


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