What are the current issues and latest trends for California wines? John Stimpfig gets the inside story from the tastemakers themselves...

New California wine trends

If you really want to know what’s happening now and in the future to great wine in the Golden State, who better to ask than its most talented, innovative and experienced winemakers?

A survey of the leading players reveals distinct trends emerging in both the vineyard and winery, resulting in new and refined wine styles.

In the vineyard, climate change and sustainability are key concerns. As Chris Carpenter, winemaker at Lokoya, Cardinale and La Jota sums up: ‘From a California winemaker’s perspective, the most important trends that we’re tracking are twofold. The first are climate-related and the second are the general effects our industry has on the biosphere.’

New technology

As you might expect, in the winery new technology and research is making an impact – but so too is the creativity of winemakers as they search for different ways to express the best character and quality of their grapes and vineyard sites. This is leading to the development of new wine styles, which also reflect the changing demands of a new generation of wine lovers.

‘Unlike their parents, the new millennial consumers demand to know where the grapes come from,’ explains Jon Emmerich, winemaker at Silverado Vineyards. ‘As they turn from handcrafted spirits and craft beer to wine, they will apply the same curiosity and demand for authenticity. Great single-vineyard and estate wines will become exciting all over again, for all generations,’ he adds.

The next generation

The younger generation is also interacting with wine in a new way, which wineries are responding to. ‘People are depending on mobile and digital technologies more and more, and studies have shown that more than 80% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase,’ says winemaker Ralf Holdenried of Black Stallion Winery.

This is leading to a much closer dialogue between winemakers and drinkers, as Joel Peterson, founder and winemaker at Ravenswood Winery, points out. ‘Due to this online trend, there’s now a direct relationship between wineries and wine consumers – particularly among the hottest wineries in California,’ he notes.

What the winemakers told us: