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Meet the Grapes

So much diversity in terroir means there’s a perfect place to grow nearly every kind of grape. In fact, you’ll find more than 100 varieties across the state, giving our winemakers the latitude to create complex varietals and unique, expressive blends.

California Reds

Poised to Pour

Click on each glass to explore the flavor profiles of California’s most popular varietals.
On the table
Click on each glass to discover great food pairing options for each varietal.

Zinfandel

Bold and rambunctious, Zinfandel can take your palate on an odyssey of flavor, from raspberry to black pepper, cloves and licorice. One of our oldest and most revered vines, we’re proud to call Zinfandel our signature grape.
On the table
Try Zinfandel with barbecued free-range beef, lamb, pork, chicken or spicy sausage.

Syrah

This noble red grape produces bold,complex and long-lived wines. Smooth yet rich with concentrated dark fruit flavors and hints of black pepper and smoke, it’s easy to see why Syrah enjoys such popularity.
On the table
Try Syrah with robust, hearty foods—from black bean chili with pork, to buffalo sliders  or rich beef stews.

Sangiovese

California’s Sangiovese is fruit forward, with spice, cherry and raspberry flavors complemented by subtle floral aromas.
On the table
Try Sangiovese with sausage and caramelized onions, or pork chops with plum conserve.

Tempranillo

California vintners craft tempranillo into wines with delightful layers of flavor. Bright cherries, raspberry, and strawberry are complemented by earthy, leathery notes in this varietal.
On the table
Try Tempranillo with dill-poached salmon, pork tenderloin with cilantro pesto, or steamed mussels.

Red Blends

Blends have long been a part of California wine culture. These days a combination of adventurous spirit, masterful artistry and creative freedom has resulted in a new generation of expressive, harmonious and distinctly Californian blends. There’s virtually no end to the range of flavors, prices and surprises.
On the table
Try a California red blend with pulled pork tacos, barbecued chicken wings, or slow-cooked short ribs.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir’s juicy cherry flavors and floral notes complement hints of earth and leather for a wine that is at turns delicate, rich, silky, subtle – and always intriguing. A cool-climate grape, it does exceptionally well in our breezy coastal regions.
On the table
Try Pinot Noir with wood-smoked bacon, roast leg of veal or grilled wild salmon.

Petite Sirah

Traditionally a blending grape, Petite Sirah’s bold character and big fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry and dark plum make it a stand-alone favorite as well. P.S. I Love You, a California organization for Petite Sirah enthusiasts, is proof of this varietal’s robust following.
On the table
Try Petite Sirah with sweet barbequed chicken, a cold roast beef sandwich with mustard, or mild blue cheeses. 

Mourvèdre

Rich and sturdy with intense fruit and blackberry aromas, this warm climate grape has a growing following. Among Mourvèdre’s biggest fans are the Rhône Rangers, who appreciate its versatility.
On the table
Try Mourvèdre with roast duck or squab, seared New York Strip steak with cracked black pepper, or a tangy blue cheese.

Merlot

Luscious and approachable, this classic varietal is known for its fruity aromas and hints of herbs. But don’t assume it’s all soft: the right California Merlot can go glass-to-glass with the biggest, boldest Cabernet Sauvignon.
On the table
Try Merlot with sautéed duck breasts or roasted pork tenderloin.

Malbec

Deep red with flavors of blackberry, pepper and plum, this traditional grape often makes its way into California’s Meritage-style blends. But Malbec lovers will tell you that it’s just as tasty on its own.
On the table
Try Malbec with classic rack of lamb, beef fajitas, and roasted root vegetables.

Grenache

Versatile and medium-bodied, Grenache is the second most widely planted grape in the world. Its great range of flavors– from red raspberry, cherry and blackberry to hints of earth – makes it perfect as a stand-alone varietal or as part of classic Rhône style blends.
On the table
Try Grenache with any grilled shellfish as well as salami, sliced ham and other charcuterie.

Cabernet Sauvignon

With its firm, focused structure, lingering dark fruit (blackberry, blueberry, black currant), and hints of mocha and earth, Cabernet Sauvignon’s concentrated flavors mellow into a rich elegance as it ages. It’s easy to see why this noble varietal is the bestselling red in the United States, and number two in California acreage.
On the table
Try Cabernet Sauvignon with grass-fed beef, whether grilled, roasted, braised or stir-fried. 

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc’s herbaceous, fruit-forward flavor and adaptable body make it an easy blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. An early maturing grape that thrives in cooler mountainous settings, you’ll find pockets of this varietal in Napa, Sonoma and San Luis Obispo counties.
On the table
Try Cabernet Franc with a classic beef stew, aged Gouda, and rosemary-rubbed pork tenderloin.

Barbera

Barbera pairs bright, crisp berry flavors and hints of smoke with bold tannins and high acidity.
On the table
Try Barbera with smoked salmon, grilled mozzarella and prosciutto, and flatbread with fresh tomato, basil and roasted garlic.

California Whites

Poised to Pour

Click on each glass to explore the flavor profiles of California’s most popular varietals.
On the table
Click on each glass to discover great food pairing options for each varietal.

Semillon

When dry, California Semillon is bright and citrusy; when crafted into a dessert wine, the result is succulent and sweet. Semillon is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and is sought after too, as a single varietal wine.
On the table
Try dry Semillon with fresh halibut or mushroom couscous. Pair sweet Semillon with peach cobbler or pears sautéed in butter.

Pinot Gris

With its crisp stone fruit and bright citrus flavors, California Pinot Gris (a.k.a. Pinot Grigio) adds a refreshing verve to most any light meal. The grape itself has a pinkish-grey skin, hence the name gris (French for grey).
On the table
Try Pinot Gris with pasta with a fresh tomato-based sauce, or spicy noodles with shrimp.

Marsanne

Marsanne is as full-bodied as it is versatile. Deeply colored with aromas of almond and honeysuckle, this grape makes wines that can be light, dry or sweet. In California, Marsanne is crafted into a Rhône-style wine, often with signature hints of beeswax and tropical fruits.
On the table
Try Marsanne with creamy potato-leek soup or roasted butternut squash with cinnamon butter.

Chardonnay

From unoaked and fruit-forward with hints of minerality to rich and toasty with vanilla and butter, the spectrum of flavors and aromas in California Chardonnay is as broad as the microclimates where the grape is grown. Chardonnay is the state’s most widely planted grape.
On the table
Try Chardonnay with white fish, shellfish and free-range chicken – especially with creamy, buttery sauces.

White Blends

California winemakers combine a natural sense of inventiveness with keen understanding of many types of white grapes to create masterful blends that win awards, please palates and pair deliciously with a wide diversity of cuisines.
On the table
Try a California white blend with fresh seafood, cold roast chicken, creamy polenta, or a range of cheeses—from ricotta to triple crème, from goat cheese to dry Jack. 

Viognier

This full-bodied varietal is known for its floral aromatics, lushness on the palate and long finish. An array of complex flavors, from apricot and orange blossom to violet and rose, give Viognier its irresistible allure.
On the table
Try Viognier with smoked oysters or mussels, or herb-roasted free-range chicken, goose or duck.

Sauvignon Blanc

Always crisp and refreshing, California vintners like to put their own spin on this classic varietal, with flavors that range from vibrant lemongrass and herb to tart green apple, round melon and fig.
On the table
Try Sauvignon Blanc with wild mushroom soup, grilled red snapper, or asparagus – especially sautéed in garlic.

Roussanne

Roussanne is a delicate wine with crisp acidity and fresh herbal aromas. In California, the grape is grown primarily on the central coast, and crafted into a single-varietal wine or made into Rhône-style blends.
On the table
Pair with honey-glazed ham or butternut squash ravioli.

Riesling

Prior to Prohibition, Riesling was the most widely planted grape in Napa Valley. This popular varietal is known for its floral aromas, mineral notes and flavors of apples, pear and hints of tropical fruit. It’s also versatile; Riesling can go from dry to sweet, spicy to honey-like.
On the table
Try Riesling with Thai spring rolls, spicy stir-fried chicken, or a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on rustic country bread. 

Pinot Blanc

Delicate and refreshing, with flavors of green apple, melon, citrus and minerals, Pinot Blanc shares a similar flavor and texture with certain styles of Chardonnay. It pairs well with a wide variety of light, fresh foods.
On the table
Try Pinot Blanc with pan-fried fresh trout, seared tuna, or smoked salmon.

Muscat/Moscato

You may know the tangy, fruity Muscat from its Italian name, Moscato. Muscat comes in a range of styles, from medium-bodied and dry or off-dry, to sparkling, to full-bodied, late-harvest, deliciously sweet wines.
On the table
Try sparkling and late-harvest Muscat with fruit tarts, vanilla custard, dark chocolate torte, or rich cheesecake. 

Grenache Blanc

Rich, full-bodied, and crisp, Grenache Blanc is known for flavors and aromas of citrus, peach and apple. It’s a popular grape along the central coast.
On the table
Try Grenache Blanc with crab, squid, or clams with garlic butter as well as grilled snapper with lemon zest.

Gewürztraminer

The deep golden color, hints of spice, and floral fragrance are just the start of this grape’s charms. This varietal is full bodied yet crisp, with notes of lychee and roses.
On the table
Try Gewürztraminer with smoked white fish, spicy stir-fried dishes, or slightly sweet desserts.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is nothing if not versatile. Primarily a blending grape that adds light melon, peach, citrus and spice to off-dry whites and sparkling wines, select wineries bottle Chenin Blanc as a crisp and refreshing varietal.
On the table
Try Chenin Blanc with seared scallops, chicken in coconut curry, or sliced ripe pears with fresh or slightly aged sheep’s milk cheeses.

California Rosé, Sparkling & Dessert Wines

Poised to Pour

Click on each glass to explore the flavor profiles of California’s most popular varietals.
On the table
Click on each glass to discover great food pairing options for each varietal.

Dessert wines

Also called late harvest wines, these deep elixirs provide a sweet end to any meal, while retaining just enough acidity to remain refreshing. They are made from a number of varietals, including Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Zinfandel.
On the table
Try dessert wines with nuts—almonds and hazelnuts—as well as chocolate tortes, vanilla custard, peach cobbler and ricotta cheesecake. In general, aim to pair sweet dessert wines with sweet desserts, and light dessert wines with light desserts. 

Sparkling

The crisp acidity of California sparkling wine pairs as easily with Tuesday night dinner as it does with a glamorous affair. Sparkling wine has been produced in California since the 1870’s, often from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in the méthode champenoise.
On the table
Try California sparkling wine with everything from Szechuan stir fry to triple crème cheeses.

Rosé

The red berry flavors of rosé are especially refreshing on cool autumn evenings and hot summer days. This wine style ranges in flavor from delicate, refined and dry to bright and sweet with a hint of creaminess.
On the table
Try California rosé with everything from spicy sauces to crisp, light salads.