Wine GrapesIntroducing a new website,, that helps consumers learn more about California’s signature beverage, Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers have compiled a list of questions that you may have always wanted to ask but have never been able to summoned the courage. Enjoy!

How much wine does California produce?

California is the leading wine producing state in the U.S., making about 90 percent of all American wine, but all 50 states now have wineries.

Why does so much great wine and food come from California?
The size of the state and the diversity of its soils and climates mean that a vast array of fresh, seasonal crops thrive there. Winegrapes are one of 400 agricultural products produced in California, and more than 110 varieties of winegrapes are grown in the state.

Does California make a lot of wine compared to other countries?

California is the fourth leading wine producer in the world, after Italy, France and Spain.

How many acres of winegrapes are planted in California?

526,000, though vineyards cover less than one percent of the state’s terrain.

What is the most popular wine from California?

By volume, Chardonnay remains the leading varietal wine from California, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, White Zinfandel and Pinot Grigio.

What is an appellation?
Wineries are required to put information on the label identifying where the grapes for the wine were grown, and the wine label term for this geographic origin is appellation.  If the label says “California,” then you know that 100% of the grapes were grown in the state (which is itself an “appellation).” But the state is also divided into many smaller appellations and sub-appellations.

What does “estate grown” on a wine label mean?

“Estate grown” on the label means that the winery and the vineyard where all the grapes are grown are located in the same viticultural area.  The winery owns or controls the vineyards, and the wine was made by the winery at its facility on the estate.

When and where were winegrapes first planted in California?

In 1769, by Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra at Mission San Diego de Alcala. He planted a variety known as the Mission grape to make wines for the church.

What type of winegrape was still widely grown in California during Prohibition?

Zinfandel, which was often shipped to home winemakers who could legally make up to 200 gallons of wine annually for home consumption.  A few wineries were also allowed to make sacramental wines.

What is California sustainable winegrowing? 
Sustainable winegrowing is a set of best practices that guide California’s growers and vintners in producing wine in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner that benefits families, employees, communities and wildlife, and the soils, air and water that make great wines possible.  The California wine community has the most widely adopted green winemaking and winegrowing program in the world and one of the few that measures and reports statewide performance. The program has earned the state’s top environmental award.