When it comes to winemaking, California wine country is one of the most essential and prominent wine producers in the world. It may surprise you to know that California is the fourth largest wine producing region in the world! So that makes “California winemakers” some of the most important contributors to the culture of wine. With a very distinctive style in how they approach making wine, California winemakers are very often considered to be celebrities.
Here are just a few summaries of some of the elite winemakers from the state:
Heidi Barrett: In 1992 Robert Parker awarded Screaming Eagle a one-hundred point score making winemaker Heidi Barrett an overnight sensation. Then in 2000, a 6-liter bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle sold for $500,000, the most expensive California wine ever sold. Today Screaming Eagle continues its reign demanding the highest retail of any other California wine thanks to Heidi Barrett’s efforts.
Paul Hobbs: Paul started his wine career at Mondavi in 1977. Paul Hobbs focus on oak aging techniques led him to make great wines with Mondavi and Simi Winery. In 1991 he struck out on his own, developing the Paul Hobbs brand began consulting for other wineries. Paul Hobbs realized the potential for Malbec after his success with the varietal at Bodegas Catena in Mendoza, Argentina. Today he continues to make fantastic Malbec and Cabernet through his partnership at Viña Cobos, Mendoza and other Argentinian brands.
Bob Levy: Bob started his career as a winemaker at Rombauer in the early 1980s and then devoted 15 years as winemaker at Merryvale. During his tenure at Merryvale, Levy partnered with Real Estate Developer Bill Harlan to create a ‘first growth’ Napa red wine. The wine, Harlan Estate, commands prices close to $700. Bob Levy is responsible for Harlan Estate and the two other Harlan brands: Bond and The Maiden. Since his success with Harlan, Bob Levy started a personal brand, Levy & McClellan, with his wife, winemaker Martha McClellan.
The California Taste of Wine
The fact is, there is always a huge global demand for California wines, which attracts some of the most talented winemakers to the region to express their talents. The reason so many winemakers want to make wine in California is because grapes grown in this part of the world have truly distinctive qualities that give the winemaker unlimited inspiration.
That “California taste” is very unique, and winemakers want to work with fruit that already offers so many layers and nuances. And, California grapes offer fruit-forward flavors and intense notes that appeal to a large cross-section of wine loves both here and abroad.
World Renowned Wine
In addition, winemakers in California really understand what Americans like in a wine, and this gives every winemaker a chance to shine - even on the international stage. Chinese wine drinkers, for example, can’t seem to get enough of California made wines, and the demand for every varietal is on a very steady trajectory. The consistent flavor profiles in the varietals also gives the California winemakers the ability to create consistent, palate-pleasing wines that make a California statement, if you will, that new wine consuming countries like China seem to love.
Starting in the 1970’s, California winemakers have garnered a reputation for being innovators, and by applying old world traditions with new world techniques, this generation of winemakers from the Golden State have learned to overcome flaws and prevent agricultural deterrents that can negatively impact the quality and tastes of the wine.
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