||Like its neighbor Napa, Sonoma is a small area filled with independent wineries and characterized by microclimates that vary according to the topography. The coolest parts of Sonoma are the fog-filled south, where the grape varieties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Northwards up the valley the climate warms and provides a good base for Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. In general Sonoma wines are less dramatically flavorful than those of Napa. Cabernet Sauvignon is relatively soft, with blackcurrant fruit, minty and eucalyptus perfume, and some soft buttery oak. Zinfandel ranges from soft and gulpable to massive bramble and pepper styles. Chardonnay is rich and juicy, especially from the Russian River, and Sauvignon Blanc can be zingy and grassy. Most Sonoma wines have a freshness and a soft edge which makes them very suitable for drinking on their own, however they partner well with strongly flavored fish and meat dishes. The old-style Zinfandels are delicious with spicy cuisine.
||Wineries exist in all fifty states, but the most predominant (and best) wine comes from Northern California, Oregon, and Washington State, with New York gaining a foothold in the industry. American wines make up about 75% of all wine sales in the US. The appellation system uses the term AVA (American Viticultural Area) to determine where wines were produced, but grape varieties can be planted anywhere in the country. American wineries generally use varietal labeling, and government regulations require that the variety on the label must make up at least 75% of the blend (in Oregon it’s 90%). The words reserve, special selection, private reserve, classic, and so on have no legal definition in the US. Some wineries use these terms to indicate their better wines; others use the words as a marketing tool to move lower quality wines off the shelf.
||Sparkling wines are part of a growing category of bubbly wines.
||Sparking roses from the US
||While California sparkling wines are made in the Méthode Champenoise style, many wineries call their product "sparkling wine" and some even use the Champagne designation. Most sparkling wine producers are found in cooler climates and use the same grapes, primarily pinot noir and chardonnay with some pinot meunier as their cousins from France. The most popular designation is brut, a dry style that is usually a blend; blanc de blancs indicates a wine made solely from chardonnay while a blanc de noirs is made with either Pinot variety (or a blend thereof).
||California produces the majority of wine made in the United States. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir dominate the wine production in California, but many other varietials thrive in the California climate. Many fine wines are produced in California using Mediterranean grapes.