History of Wine in CaliforniaAugust 31, 2011


Nearly three-quarters the size of France, California accounts for nearly 90 percent of total wine production in the United States. The production of wine in California alone is one third larger than that of Australia.  If California were a separate country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest wine producer.

The state’s viticulture history dates back to the 18th century when Spanish missionaries planted the first vineyards to produce wine for the Catholic mass.  Following a wine renaissance in the mid-20th century, Californian wine entered the international stage at the 1976 Judgment of Paris wine competition, where Californian wines beat out French wines in both red and white wine categories. Today there are more than 1,200 wineries in the state, ranging from small boutique wineries to large corporations like E & J Gallo Winery with distribution across the globe.