The largest producer of American wine, California offers a wealth of options from well-known regions like Napa and Sonoma as well as promising wineries in Santa Barbara. In this state you’ll find everything from vast corporate vineyards known for inexpensive table wine to small independent operations that produce stunning examples of world-class products.
A warm-climate growing area with a good reputation for the red varieties Syrah and Zinfandel.
A cool-climate growing area despite its southern location, with many promising wines. Look for reds from Pinot Noir and whites from Chardonnay.
A warm growing area with medium- to heavy-bodied dry red and white wines. The key red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel, and the key white varieties are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Can be cool to warm, depending on the district. Red varieties of importance include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, while the primary white varieties are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
A warm-climate growing area in Sonoma whose key red variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, while Sauvignon Blanc is the key white.
Dry Creek Valley
Also a warm-climate district in the Sonoma region. The top red variety remains Zinfandel and the most important white variety is Sauvignon Blanc.
Russian River Valley
A major source of grapes for California’s sparkling wines and top-notch Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Oregon shares its location on the 45th parallel with the Burgundy region in France, while Washington’s wines are winning increasing attention and acclaim. The scattering of wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest tend to grow some of the same grape varieties seen in California, but in lesser quantities as these wineries are smaller.
Oregon concentrates on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but recently the production of Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) has picked up, with the Oregonians giving the grape a more Alsatian swing. The dominant wine region is the Willamette Valley, whose sub-regions include Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains, and the Eola-Amity Hills district. Key white varieties are Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, while the key red variety is Pinot Noir.
Washington does an admirable job with Merlot, but is also well regarded for Cabernet. Syrah, a late bloomer for this state, has also come on strong in the last decade. The best growing regions are actually not along the coast where many of the wineries are, but inland, on the other side of the Cascades in south-central Washington.
The Columbia Valley is a warm growing area that extends from north-central Washington through the south-central and southeast sections of the state. It encompasses a number of fine districts including the Walla Walla Valley and the Yakima Valley.
Shop Wines by Region: Oregon/Washington