California Wine Month (as proclaimed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger). It's the seventh year for the wine month promotion, which showcases the state's mind-boggling array of wine regions.
The California Wine Institute, a trade organization of the state's winemakers, is behind the event. It created a lovely, useful web site with lots of great information on the state's wine areas and wineries.
At a promotional event last night, I spoke with Jim Ryan of Concannon in the Livermore Valley, one of California's less well-known wine areas. Ryan said the valley -- where grapes were first planted in 1854, long before Napa -- is getting better known, in part thanks to the economy that's keeping people closer to home and looking for bargains. Places like Livermore are where the wine values are to be found. "We've got great values and it's location, location, location." It's a relatively fast drive from many places in the Bay Area: without much traffic it takes only 45 minutes from San Francisco. And, tasting rooms don't cost as much as at the state's more famous competing wine zones: typical Livermore valley wineries charge $5 for sampling seven wines. At Concannon, you even get to keep the glass.
Evan Goldstein, master sommelier, gave a talk on the importance of California wines. "We take it for granted at times," he said. California is critical in the U.S. wine industry, with nine out of 10 bottles produced In the U.S. from the state. Forty-eight out of California's 50 counties grow grapes. Goldstein said wine lovers are getting more adventurous about visiting more of the state's wine regions and trying different types of wines, beyond standard merlot, cabernet, sauvignon blanc. "We've got more than 100 types of grapes grown commercially in California and lots of different appellations." That's lots of opportunities to explore.
(Photos: at top left, Domaine Chandon. At right, a vineyard in spring, outside Healdsburg).
Spa del Sol, a Caribbean-Balinese Spa Oasis in Aruba
16 hours ago