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Ten of the best California rosé wines

As balmy weather and lengthening days signal the arrival of spring, it’s time to think about travel, adventure—and rosé. William Kelley picks his top 10 California rosé wines...

Always fun and sometimes frivolous, rosé is seldom taken too seriously, but the genre is one of California wine’s most dynamic, attracting increasing numbers of talented winemakers.

Whereas consumers have certain expectations of a California Cabernet, rosé offers more freedom to experiment with out-of-the-way vineyards, eclectic grape varieties and novel winemaking techniques: the necessity is not so much to ‘impress’ as to refresh. That makes rosé appealing to up-and-coming young winemakers and well-established stalwarts alike.

Rosé has also attracted the attention of California’s new generation of sparkling wine pioneers. Inspired by the grower champagne movement and emulating its emphasis on single-vineyard, terroir-driven bottlings made on an artisanal scale, the early results already presage an exciting renaissance in North American sparkling wine.

The result is a burgeoning range of rosés that are versatile at the table, full of character and deliciously quaffable. Their usually modest pricing belies their quality. And take note: if the best metric of a winemaker’s talent is found in their humblest wine, some of these less heard-of producers seem destined for future stardom.

California rosé: 10 top wines

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