Home from another family visit up to Napa Valley, and I want to move north, like I do every time.
In the 90’s I was sipping espresso at Tra Vigne.. Just a smitten teenager fantasizing about living in “the valley” someday. Now, I’m a mom ordering Skinny Girl Margaritas in the other valley- the one with all the malls & frozen yogurt shops. But remember (deep breath) it’s just a quick road trip up the 5 FWY to that perfect little escape, delicious meals, and some of the best wines in the world.
About a decade ago, down south, I met a wonderful woman on a TV show we co-hosted in San Diego. She escaped to Northern Cali, following her passion for all things wine. Combining her talents with her interests (so smart!) she launched the award-winning website Wine Oh TV. Did I mention she is also about to give birth to twins? Like, any minute now. So what better time to interview my gorgeous mom-to-be/wine expert friend MONIQUE SOLTANI about the new trends in California Wines? I’ll drink to that! Monique, you can too, next week.
Me: Do you think California wine is becoming “trendy” and why?
Monique: I wouldn’t say California wine is becoming “trendy” because that alludes to a fad or something that could fade away. California wines have been recognized for their quality for decades. California wine shipments in the U.S. were 225 million cases in 2014 & represent 90% of the wines exported from the U.S. Last year represents the 22nd consecutive year of growth for all wine sales in the U.S.
California wines (Napa Valley specifically) have been on the map since the Judgment of Paris in 1976. That event really put California on the worldwide map for quality & that’s when the wine world started taking us seriously. I think it helps that California had some fantastic harvests the past few years. Despite the drought, 2012, 2013 & 2014 have received worldwide recognition for quality & quantity.
What I would say is that a lot of the lesser known or up-and-coming California wine regions (Paso Robles, Livermore, Lodi, just to name a few) are really coming into their own. I think this is for a few reasons. Millennials drink a ton of wine & they’re a group who is not afraid to take risks & try new things. Thanks to the Internet & social media, people can share & learn about new wines & wine regions that they just wouldn’t be exposed to in the past. I think this is a great thing for wine lovers & the wine community overall. Variety as they say is the spice of life!
Me: What do you think about the burgeoning Temecula Wine Region?
Monique: I’m sad to say I have actually never been to the Temecula Wine Region & am not really familiar with their wines. I’ve heard amazing things from my friends in SoCal that touring & exploring the region is a blast & the wines are delicious. Sounds like I’m going to have to plan a trip to Temecula with the twins in tow! Who wants to come with? :)
Me: What is the first wine you will be drinking after you give birth?
Monique: Two bottles of vintage Champagne of course! Why you ask? Clearly, we will need to celebrate by popping two bottles because we are having twins of course & Champagne always =’s celebration! Haha! :) I also heard from a group of French wine loving Doctors that vintage champagne its good for milk production. (Me: Why didn’t I know this before?!)
Inspired to start your love affair with California wines? Here are three palette-pleasing locales in Cali, curated by the “Wine-Oh’s” over at DETAILS magazine:
Yes, Sideways put Santa Barbara on the map 10 years ago. But now it’s attracting younger producers like Justin Willett, who is doing lighter-bodied Pinot Noirs in Lompoc, and Rajat Parr, who is crafting Chardonnays in the Santa Rita Hills. Try Willett’s Santa Barbara County and Parr’s Sandhi Bentrock, both 2012s.
Lake County has long been a hidden source for quality blends. Now the secret’s out. Obsidian Ridge’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon has a touch of vanilla, and Six Sigma’s 2009 Tempranillo Reserve lays claim to the region as the most hospitable U.S. home for the Spanish grape.
Though its first vineyards appeared in the eighties and nineties, Anderson Valley never developed into a tourist spot: If you were driving from San Francisco, you’d have to bypass Sonoma (and all of its hotels, restaurants, and wineries) to get there. Breggo’s Savoy Chardonnay 2011 is spicy and floral.
More About Our Guest:
Wine Oh TV Founder, expecting 1st time Mom, and Host Monique Soltani is a seasoned journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and American Studies and well over a decade of experience working as a broadcaster for The Weather Channel, KPIX-TV/CBS 5, KNTV-TV/NBC 11, KGTV-TV/ABC 10 and more.. Nominated for 2015 WIne Blog Awards. Vote for her site here!