Every year hundreds, if not thousands of new wineries are born in California. It’s a competitive market to be sure, if California was its own country, it would be the 4th largest wine producer in the world. It’s also the US state with the 9th largest consumption rate, when combined with the huge population makes California America’s largest wine market. In any case, here’s our list of California’s hot wineries as we hit the middle of summer!
A project by a converted wine blogger (William Allen) 2 Shepherds is actually a one man operation. It’s hot right now because the wine is incredible of course, but also because it hits the two most common things that consumers are looking for in California wine. First, the grapes sourced by Allen for his come from cool climate vineyards. Second, he’s using natural yeasts and trying to follow nature’s course for his grapes and the wine that they produce. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he received help from some of the titans of the industry when he started his project including the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyards. For those who take the time to track down Allen for a tasting appointment, you’ll meet a winemaker comfortable in his own skin and happy to talk to you about his craft and why he has chosen to not only make the wines this way, but why he feels like it is the only choice for him.
Donkey & Goat
Based in Berkeley California, about an hour or two south of Napa Valley and Sonoma and only a few miles west of the city of San Francisco, Donkey & Goat certainly doesn’t sit at the heart of wine country. A number of years ago, the winery style of absolute non intervention in the wine (even going without sulfur in some cases) would have not been accepted by either consumers, or the wine establishment which at the time was chasing the exact pedigree that made Napa Valley famous, no matter what the vineyard produced in a given year. These are interesting and unusual wines, some of which are sourced from the Sierra Foothills, one of the new and virtually untapped regions when it comes to California wine.
When one considers new and hot wineries, an established property like the one that brings us Alpha Omega isn’t typically on the list. Of course, few wineries in Napa Valley have opened in the past decade with the type of universal acclaim that has come to Alpha Omega. After all, a 94 point score from Robert Parker in one of your first vintage’s isn’t exactly common. They belong on this list though because Alpha Omega sits in the heart of Napa Valley along the 29 highway. When it comes to California wine and California wineries-this is the highway of kings so to speak. Mondavi started his namesake winery here and Andy Beckstoffer, the most famous grower in the world owns and operates tracks of land in every direction. You simply cannot write a history of Napa Valley that doesn’t include almost every single winery that sits along highway 29 in this stretch of Rutherford. Alpha Omega is simply the newest addition, but incredible wine and an incredible location make it one of the hot wineries of today.
Owner of the online wine club Uncorked Ventures, Mark Aselstine spends an inordinate amount of time talking with and writing about California’s new and emerging wineries.