Wine Line: Raise a glass to the state's wine industry

Russ WintonSeptember 12, 2012 

Gov. Jerry Brown has proclaimed September as California Wine Month.

It's the eighth consecutive year wineries across the Golden State are popping corks, hosting special tastings and harvest tours and providing hands-on wine immersion experiences to celebrate California's diverse wine regions.

Just a few miles south, the Madera Vintner's Association will celebrate California Wine Month on Sept. 21 with a reception and wine tasting featuring 10 area wineries at CRU Wine Co. And to the north, the Lodi Vintners are offering a monthlong celebration from Sept. 1 to Oct. 6. Wine lovers can purchase a LoCA Road Trip Passport, an all-access pass to exclusive events and discounts from 50 participating Lodi wineries.

LoCA Passports are $15. For details on all the activities in celebration of California Wine Month, go to www.

If gas prices are holding you back, celebrate the month by buying a favorite California wine, pouring a glass, turning on the computer and watching the new California Wines Road Trip video. Produced by the Wine Institute, it is a virtual tour of California's scenic wine regions.

If it doesn't inspire you to take advantage of the dozens of special events and activities in September, then lift your glass and propose a toast to the fourth largest wine producer in the world, making 90 percent of all U.S. wine. Each year California draws nearly 21 million tourists to visit wine regions throughout the state. You can find the video at www.

Wine by the numbers

According to the Wine Institute, in 1970 there were 240 wineries in California. In 2010 there were 3,364. There are 115 American Viticultural Areas in California. The smallest is 253 acres; it's Cole Ranch in Mendocino County, owned by Esterlina Winery. The largest AVA is the Central Coast, which is 250 miles long and includes San Francisco and Santa Barbara County, with more than 4 million acres.

The estimated retail dollar value of California's 2011 domestic wine sales was nearly $20 billion.

Chardonnay is the most popular wine (21 percent) followed by cabernet sauvignon (12 percent), merlot (10 percent), pinot grigio (8 percent) and white zinfandel (7 percent). And last year, the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau approved 120,000 new wine labels.

Confused? Don't worry, none of this information will be on the final exam.

What's on our table

A few columns ago, I chose the 2010 Kenwood Russian River Pinot Noir for our table selection and suggested pairing it with barbecued planked salmon. If you liked that, try the 2010 McManis California Pinot Noir, a gold medal winner at the SF International Wine Tasting.

I lightly chilled it and paired it with barbecued pork skewers with an Asian-style marinade, a perfect match. The wine lists for $11 but is available at local markets for under $10. Cheers!

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