The Growth of California Wine Production


California is known as the United States capital of wine production.  For decades, the wine production in the state of California has grown consistently, with just a few valleys amidst the peaks.  Even with the valleys, the production has continued to grow steadily over time.

In 2016, the United States produced over 800 million gallons of wine, and over 680 million of those came from California.

While it’s impossible to predict the future, the experts are forecasting stable growth of wine production in the United States in the near future, which means that California will likely continue to grow.

Different types of wine

Chardonnay has generally been the most produced wine in California over the years.  There are about 95,000 acres in California dedicated to Chardonnay production.

The next is Cabernet Sauvignon, which has about 77,000 acres.

Overall, red wine seems to be more popular than white.  In 2005, red wine had a 41.7 percent share of the market, while white held 41 percent, and blush about 17 percent.  In that same year, Merlot, Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon accounted for more than half of the overall sales in stores.

California wine moves to sustainability

Roughly half of the wine growers in California are now involved in the Code of Sustainable Wine Growing Practices program, which is dedicated to environmental sustainability in wine production.

These statistics are still a little bit outdated coming from 2005, and so it ought to be estimated that more and more growers are moving towards sustainability, which is good for the environment.

A brief history

The Spanish introduced Vitisvinifera vines, which are grapes from the Mediterranean, in the 18th century.  With each and every mission that they established, they planted vineyards.

When the Gold Rush happened in the mid-1800s, there were large waves of settlers which made the demand for local wines increase.  The very first winery that was commercial in the area was the Buena Vista Winery, which was founded in 1857.

Prohibition’s effect

When prohibition was passed into law in 1919, all of the vineyards in the state were forced to be uprooted and the cellars were ordered to be destroyed. Thankfully, there were a few vineyards that were able to survive this huge hit by switching to grape juice and table grape production.

There were also a few of them that were allowed to produce sacramental wine for churches.  Unfortunately, most of the vineyards did in fact go out of business, which was a huge hit to the economy.There were only 140 wine producers still in operation in 1933 at the repeal of prohibition.

Thriving now

In spite of the negative impact of prohibition, the wine industry quickly recovered and has thrived ever since. With nearly 90% of the wine production in the country coming out of California currently, the wine economy in the state can compete with many countries.

Needless to say, next time you go to buy a bottle of wine, it likely came from California.