United States

Worldwide demand for the top wines of California, and increasingly Oregon, is driving prices and investment up meaning the wines are getting ever better but also scarcer. We have periodic allocations of these super wines so keep an eye on our Oddments List and our email offers.

California is by far the biggest wine-producing state in North America. Two of the best-known regions, Napa and Sonoma, sit side-by-side to the north of San Francisco Bay. Carneros straddles the two and is the source of Doug Shafer’s Chardonnays whilst the winery is in Stag’s Leap, a district of Napa which is famed for its Cabernets and Merlots. Christian Moueix, the famous Right Bank Bordeaux producer, established Dominus Estate on the 43 Ha Napanook vineyard in 1983. Situated near Yountville in southern Napa, three wines are produced: Dominus, its flagship, Napanook and Othello. In Carneros, the Swiss-owned Cuvaison Winery has been perfecting superbly elegant Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays for nearly 50 years, while based in the north of Sonoma, Rodney Strong vineyards has holdings throughout the area and carefully matches grape varieties to the soil type and microclimates to produce excellent examples. Fred Cline of Cline Cellars in southern Sonoma produces some great wines from Rhône varieties that are terrific value. East of Napa is the city of Sacramento and the Clarksburg and Lodi wine areas, both great sources of excellent value wines from some different grape varieties. The Bogle Vineyard holdings run to some 650 Ha but remain firmly in family hands. The grapes are grown in a sustainable manner taking full advantage of the warmer climate. Near Livermore to the east of San Francisco Bay, is Wente Vineyards with 5th generation Karl Wente at its head. Founded in 1883, it claims to be the longest continuously operated family winery in the USA. Proximity to the water provides cooling fogs which protect the vines from the intense summer heat giving more elegant wines. Just by San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains is Ridge Vineyards which champions single-vineyard wine production from across California.

Heading south again, towards Los Angeles, takes you through Santa Cruz and Monterey but such is the scale of this country that LA is still over a five-hour drive away! This far south the climate is noticeably hotter. This region is home to the ‘Rhône Rangers’: rich blends of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre/Mataro) which excel in the southern heat. The wines from the Pacific North-West comprise those of firstly Oregon and then Washington State as one travels north. Oregon is synonymous with world class Pinot Noirs made by small, family-run wineries. Its vineyards are concentrated in the state’s west and the Willamette Valley where, at the Willakenzie Estate, they make the most of the cool climate to fashion Burgundy-inspired wines, the name coming from a combination of the nearby Willamette and McKenzie rivers. On paper Washington State should be cooler than Oregon but the Columbia and Yakima Valleys are in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains giving a warm, dry, more continental climate that is ideal for grape production. The West Coast’s success means that the wines of the East Coast are largely overlooked by British wine lovers and critics. New York State’s Finger Lakes and Long Island regions produce some super, edgy Rieslings, Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Virginia has a vibrant wine industry near the Blue Ridge Mountains and has a noticeably warmer and more humid climate where Chardonnay, Cabernet and Petit Verdot are doing very well.

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