Interesting Updates in the California Wine Industry

As promised, I am going to start blogging more about general wine news, information, tasting notes, etc. In following a greater number of industry news sources I came across two very interesting articles about California. While I may be a French wine convert, I am also a Cali girl at heart and it’s always interesting to keep up with what is going on back home.

First and foremost, French spirit producing giant Pernod-Ricard has announced it is purchasing Kenwood Winery. With a huge stable of international brands, like Absolut Vodka, Glenlivet, Kahlua, Malibu, and Mumm just to name a few, Pernod-Ricard is an international giant, the second-largest wine and spirits producer in the world. The acquisition of Kenwood just adds to this international domination and adds to the P-R presence in the USA market. However, it is an interesting choice as it is the first US still winery and the first property in Sonoma County to be added to the portfolio. With a huge pool of resources, it will be interesting to see what this industry giant makes of Sonoma County’s largest premium brand.

In other interesting news, San Francisco Chronicle critic Jon Bonné has released a new book, The New California Wine,  about the changing wine industry in California. Long a hot bed of innovation and exploration, California’s impact on the international wine industry dates to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Moving away from large scale brands, small California winemakers are continuing to explore new varietals, new trends and new styles. In fact, in a recent Chardonnay tasting it became readily apparent that even the largest Napa Valley estates are moving away from the heavily oaked, buttery Chardonnays that have long been the backbone of the region’s white wine production. California producers are embracing the concept of terroir and are looking to highlight quality.

It will be an interesting year to watch in Calfornia, given the recent drought problems. But with great summer weather, there the potential for another amazing harvest. In the mean time, I’m going to try to hunt down some Grüner Veltliner, one of California’s newest rising varietals.