Where can we find Catfandel?

Although Chardonnay is the grape variety most widely planted in the United States, Zinfandel can be considered the the facto signature grape of this country, even developing an unique style of wine, the White Zinfandel, very different for the one used in the old world.

The wine production of the United States is heavily centered in the west coast states: California, Oregon and Washington.

The main wine producing areas of these 3 states IN the usa are:

Napa Valley

Sonoma and Mendocino

Central Coast

Central Valley

Washington, Oregon and British Columbia

Napa Valley: The jewel of the North American crown

Arguably the most famous wine region of California, Napa Valley is home of some of the most prestigious wines of California. The altitude and distance to the ocean creates a great climatic diversity. The most important regions in Napa are:

✾ Los Carneros AVA: Shared between Napa and Sonoma, just north of the San Pablo bay, the morning fogs and cool afternoon breezes create the perfect conditions for the production of Pinot Noir and sparkling wine.

✾ Stags Leap District, Oakville and Rutherford AVAs: Situated on the shores of the Napa river, the climate of these regions are warm enough to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon. Other important grape varieties are Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

✾ Saint Helena and Calistoga: North of the valley and further away from the sea, these regions often receive the warmest daytime temperatures and can produce some of the most concentrated and full bodied wines of Napa Valley.

✾ Howell Mountain and Atlas peak: situated in the higher altitude terrain east of the valley, these regions get full exposure to the hot afternoon sun, giving wines with higher alcohol levels.

✾ Spring Mountain district and Mount Veeder AVA: situated in the higher altitude terrain west of the valley, they get lesser exposure to the sun than their counterparts in the opposite bank.


If you are going to Napa Valley be sure to taste the signature grape of California that gives me my name: Zinfandel. Originally from Southern Italy, where it is known as Primitivo, it was one of the first grapes planted by the European inmigrants that settled California during the second half of the 19th century. It adapted very well to the mediterranean climate of these lands and it became famous for both its red and rosés wines, called locally as White Zinfandel.

I enjoy most of my time being in the cellar, where I can play hide and seek with mice and other rodents. During summer, I also patrol the vineyards, making sure that grapes are ripening properly and are not menaced by grasshoppers or other insects. When visitors come, I’m always the first to greet them and show them around, so they can understand better the hard work we do here, and sometimes I play with them to make sure they have an unforgettable experience.

In the picture I’m dressed as a hippy, a coutercultural movement that originated in California, and carry a banner saying “Make wine, not war”. Unfortunately this banner is always appropiate, as there are always several wars taking place around the world. I hope one day humans will give peace a chance.

Sonoma and Mendocino: the western border of the wine world

Sonoma County is larger than Napa and hosts a greater diversity of climates. The main regions are:

✾ Russian River Valley AVA: Due to the Petaluma gap in the coastal range, fog is the defining characteristic, creating the perfect conditions for the production of high quality Pinot Noir.

✾ Alexander Valley AVA: Further inland, the Alexander Valley region is well known for its fleshy and fuller-bodied wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon.

✾ Sonoma Coast AVA: This region is the closest to the Atlantic ocean and vineyards are, in most cases, planted in south facing slopes to maximiSe ripening.

✾ Anderson Valley AVA: Situated in Mendocino county, it’s well known for the production of wines from aromatic white varieties such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Sparkling wine is also produced here.

✾ Dry Creek Valley AVA: Northern of Russian River and above the dense fog layer we find Dry Creek Valley. On the hillsides we can find old Zinfandel vines while down into the valley the climate is better suited for Sauvignon Blanc.



Central Coast: Between San Francisco and Santa Barbara

Covering a greater territory than the other two regions combined, the Central Coast region runs from the San Francisco bay to the Santa Barbara channel.

The main wine producing regions are:

✾ Paso Robles AVA: As well as it happened with Monterrey, this region can also be divided in two different zones: the east, with fertile soils and a warmer climate, present the ideal conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The west, with a stronger maritime influence, is better suited for Zinfandel.

✾ Santa Cruz Mountains AVA: Home of some of the best Californian wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is also planted here.

✾ Monterrey AVA: With a stronger maritime influence, the Monterrey AVA might be divided between the coast, where Pinot Noir and Chardonay constitutes the most relevant grape varieties, and further inland, where the cool winds are less stronger and Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shyrah are planted.

✾ Santa Maria valley AVA: The southernmost AVA, this region is significantly cooler due to its proximity to the coast. In low-lying areas fog tends to cover the vineyards during the day, making it possible to cultivate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Central Valley: the heart of viticulture in the United States

This region concentrates the vast majority of wine production in California. While most of the area is used for high volume inexpensive wines, there is a region, the Lodi AVA that benefits for the cooling breezes from San Francisco bay and is home to some of the oldest and best Zinfandel vineyards in the state.

Pacific Northwest: Viticulture beyond California

After California, Oregon and Washington are the most important for wine production. Situated between the Rocky mountains and the Pacific Ocean, these two states and the neighboring Canadian province of British Columbia produce some of the finest wines of North America.

✾ Willamette Valley: Located south of Portland, this valley can be considered the wine heartland of Oregon. The most planted variety by far is Pinot Noir, thanks to the cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean

✾ Columbia Valley: Located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, this region relies on irrigation for wine production. Although Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon find here ideal conditions for growing, the most planted variety is Chardonnay

✾ Walla Walla: Generally cooler than the surrounding Columbia Valley, this region, shared between the states of Washington and Oregon, The top 3 varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

✾ Yakima Valley: Around 40% of the wine production of Washington state comes from this region. The temperature is, in general, more temperate than that of the Columbia Valley. Chardonnay is also the most planted variety, while we can find important plantation of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.

✾ Okanagan Valley: This area alone accounts for around 80% of all the wine produced in British Columbia. Warmer and more arid than the Napa valley, this region gets nearly two hours more sunlight per day during the peak growing season.