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(Note: Information Originally Published In 1955 - Presented For Historical Perspective!)
There are two accepted ways of classifying the winegrowing districts of California.
The first, as worked out by the viticultural scientists of the University of California, is of primary interest to the growers. The method is based on the adaptability of the different grape varieties to the climatic conditions of the various wine-growing localities of the state. These have been grouped, regardless of location, according to the average degrees of heat above 50° Fahrenheit from April i to October 31, and correspond to what can be termed the cool, moderately cool, intermediate, moderately hot, and hot climatic zones.
The type of soil, naturally, also influences the grape as to the character of the wine it will yield. It is generally agreed, however, that the vine actually draws much of its nourishment from the surrounding atmosphere, the leaves of all plants nourishing themselves by breathing in the air.
The second system is the geographical one, which makes it possible to progress from region to region and from district to district or county. This makes it easy to follow the various winegrowing districts on a map and is the method utilized by this Guide (see Wine Map of California and regional maps).
The geographical system is also preferable for the purpose of this guide, as many wineries obtain grapes, and sometimes wines, from vineyards located in more than one climatic zone, be it from their own vines or from other growers, and either from the same general area or from other districts. Growers in the inland valley often produce table wines from grapes grown in the coastal districts, or blend them with the valley wines, and coastal growers often make dessert and even table types from grapes grown in the inland valley areas.
Whether or not a wine has been wholly produced by the grower is indicated on the labeling. The term "produced and bottled" means that a minimum of 75 per cent of the wine has been produced, that is, fermented into wine, by the grower whose name appears on the label. "Made and bottled" means that at least 10 per cent of the wine has actually been produced and that the balance has received some cellar treatment by the grower on the label, although it may not necessarily have been produced in his winery. The difference between the two methods of production does not necessarily indicate a graduation in quality among the wines, although wineries are naturally the proudest of those wines which they themselves have wholly grown and produced. Wineries which only market the latter are sometimes described as having a chateau operation.
The term "bottled" on the label means that the wine has merely been purchased and bottled.
"Winegrower," or "grower," is used in the Guide to designate both the producer who makes wine only from his own grapes and the one who buys outside grapes, and possibly wines, to complete the selection he wishes to market. The term "vintner" is restricted to the producer who does not own vineyards, but who buys wines to blend and age them before marketing.
The more notable wineries of California are presented in the following pages by region and district. In each district they are arranged alphabetically within the locality. Selection has been governed by the quality, both of premium and sound standard wines produced. No prices are indicated, as they may vary slightly according to the part of the country where they are purchased and will presumably change over the years.
Only those wineries are included which produce and market directly for the public, with brands which are distributed nationally or on a more restricted basis. Winegrowers who have consistently won awards at either or both California fairs since i95o are automatically included, with the exception only of those who have had to close their doors. Also included are prominent growers both of high and of sound standard quality wines who send their wines to the fairs only irregularly or not at all. Small, non-exhibiting wineries who produce wines of special merit are mentioned, including a few who only recently started operations.
A complete listing of all California and other American wineries is published in the "Annual Directory Issue" of the publication Wines and Vines,* while a practical series of Guide Maps to all California wineries is available at the Wine Institute.
The California wine-producing areas can be grouped geographically in three great regions, as follows:
The cool to moderately cool northern coastal region, where all the finest table wines are produced, the top-quality champagnes, and some notable dessert wines.The hot inland valley region, the home especially of the dessert wines, but producing also table wines and bulk-fermented champagnes. The warm Southern California region, where dessert wines, champagnes, and table wines of note are produced.