Modern Americans have little in common with ancient Egyptians and Romans — except, perhaps, their love affair with wine.
Wine shows up in religious texts and hieroglyphics, not to mention at any decent dinner party. Most American wines come from California, though all 50 states now have wineries.
The next time you pour a glass, impress your guests with these facts about California wine provided by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers:
Fact #1 — California makes about 90 percent of all American wine. The state’s size and diverse climate and soils allow over 100 winegrape varieties to grow in the state, covering 526,600 vineyard acres.
Fact #2 — The church brought wine to California. Specifically, a Franciscan missionary named Father Junipero Serra started planting grapes at Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769.
Fact #3 — California wine is earth-friendly. California vintners and growers have the most widely adopted green wine growing and wine making program in the world, one that has won Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top environmental award.
Fact #4 — Many celebrities own or co-own wineries. Some names you might recognize? Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Peggy Fleming, racecar driver Randy Lewis and “The Bachelor” reality star Andrew Firestone all own or co-own wineries.
Fact #5 — Movies love wine. Sales of Pinot Noir skyrocketed after 2004’s hit movie Sideways, which took place in Santa Barbara County. 2008’s Bottle Shock tells the story of the 1976 “Judgment of Paris,” where California wines beat French wines in a blind taste test, giving California international recognition.
Fact #6 — Wine label term explained. “Appellation” means where the grapes were grown — wineries are required to put that information on the label. A wine’s appellation can be as broad as a country or as narrow as a couple hundred acres.
Fact #7 — Winegrapes were still grown during Prohibition. California winegrowers shipped grapes to home winemakers, who could legally make up to 200 gallons of wine for home use. Some wineries made sacramental wines as well.
For more information, visit www.discovercaliforniawine.com.