Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wine Institute - 'California Wine' Insert

[Above: A view of the vineyard of the Ceago Vinegarden on Clear Lake]

With September being touted as "California Wine Month," a couple of weeks ago many Californians received an insert entitled 'California Wine' in their newspapers. This was courtesy of the Wine Institute, which is called "The Voice of California Wine." With the recent passing of Robert Montavi, who probably did more to put Napa and California wine on the map than anyone else, I thought this would be an interesting thing to take a peek at.

The first advertisement was from Gallo Family Vineyards, which is the third generation of the Gallo California winemakers. I believe the Gallo family is originally from Piemonte. On the first page, Wine editor Jon Bonne states "Wine is an enormous part of California's past, present, and future. And California has an undeniable love affair with the vine, buying 192 million cases of California wine each year. Another 50 million is shipped around the world, according to the Wine Institute. Yet those numbers barely define the success story. What's more amazing is how broad the wine industry's growth has been. Last year, California hosted 2,687 bonded wineries - more than triple the number in 1990."

There was one advertisement to promote wines from the Lodi area. "Lodi" is sister cities of Lodi in Lombardia, where it gets it's name. You might recall also, that the old Italian Swiss Colony winery was based in Asti, California, named after Asti in Piemonte. This advertisement was paid for by the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. On their website is a list of the local wineries, which includes a number of families, whose origin is particularly from around the Liguria area. It would take a little too long to go into all of them here now. Hopefully we can focus on some of these in the future.

Naturally this insert focused mainly on Napa and had a number of articles on winemaking. One advertisement was from the Napa Valley Vintners, and they have a very informative website. Other links that I would like to add here are the the Russian River Wine Road, the Livermore Valley Wine Country, and the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, which all had ads as well.

There are some newer up-and-coming wine regions. One such area is Lake County, which is a very picturesque area that surrounds Clear Lake, and is about 100 miles north of San Francisco. If Napa County has the perfect weather and conditions for winemaking, then Lake County is just north of it. I had visited a few of the wineries in the county several years ago. One of those was the Ployez Winery, I met the owner Gerald Ployez, who was hospitable enough to allow us to wine taste after hours. He is from France, so there must be some key reason that would bring him all the way to specifically Lake County to grow wine. The Lake County Winegrape Commission had a full-page ad in the insert.

Another winery in Lake County (among many) is the Rosa d'Oro Winery. It's owned by the Buttitta family, which apparently has long roots in winemaking, but without a label of their own until they moved to Lake County. Another winery, which caught my eye, was the Monte Lago Winery. Expecting to read about an Italian family, I saw where it is owned by a woman of Indian descent, who claims that winemaking goes back far in India. The first known production of wine seems to go back to Sumeria, Persia, and the Levant about 6,000 years ago, by ancient Sumerian, Persian, and Phoenician type peoples. However, it was really in ancient Greece that winemaking, in the form that we know today, got it's start.

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