So much diversity in terroir means there’s a perfect place to grow nearly every kind of grape. In fact, you’ll find more than 100 varieties across the state, giving our winemakers the latitude to create complex varietals and unique, expressive blends.
- BarberaBarbera pairs bright, crisp berry flavors and hints of smoke with bold tannins and high acidity.
Try Barbera with smoked salmon, grilled mozzarella and prosciutto, and flatbread with fresh tomato, basil and roasted garlic.More about food and wine
- Cabernet FrancCabernet Franc’s herbaceous, fruit-forward flavor and adaptable body make it an easy blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. An early maturing grape that thrives in cooler mountainous settings, you’ll find pockets of this varietal in Napa, Sonoma and San Luis Obispo counties.
Try Cabernet Franc with a classic beef stew, aged Gouda, and rosemary-rubbed pork tenderloin.More about food and wine
- Cabernet SauvignonWith its firm, focused structure, lingering dark fruit (blackberry, blueberry, black currant), and hints of mocha and earth, Cabernet Sauvignon’s concentrated flavors mellow into a rich elegance as it ages. It’s easy to see why this noble varietal is the bestselling red in the United States, and number two in California acreage.
Try Cabernet Sauvignon with grass-fed beef, whether grilled, roasted, braised or stir-fried.More about food and wine
- GrenacheVersatile and medium-bodied, Grenache is the second most widely planted grape in the world. Its great range of flavors– from red raspberry, cherry and blackberry to hints of earth – makes it perfect as a stand-alone varietal or as part of classic Rhône style blends.
Try Grenache with any grilled shellfish as well as salami, sliced ham and other charcuterie.More about food and wine
- MalbecDeep red with flavors of blackberry, pepper and plum, this traditional grape often makes its way into California’s Meritage-style blends. But Malbec lovers will tell you that it’s just as tasty on its own.
Try Malbec with classic rack of lamb, beef fajitas, and roasted root vegetables.More about food and wine
- MerlotLuscious and approachable, this classic varietal is known for its fruity aromas and hints of herbs. But don’t assume it’s all soft: the right California Merlot can go glass-to-glass with the biggest, boldest Cabernet Sauvignon.
Try Merlot with sautéed duck breasts or roasted pork tenderloin.More about food and wine
- MourvèdreRich and sturdy with intense fruit and blackberry aromas, this warm climate grape has a growing following. Among Mourvèdre’s biggest fans are the Rhône Rangers, who appreciate its versatility.
Try Mourvèdre with roast duck or squab, seared New York Strip steak with cracked black pepper, or a tangy blue cheese.More about food and wine
- Petite SirahTraditionally a blending grape, Petite Sirah’s bold character and big fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry and dark plum make it a stand-alone favorite as well. P.S. I Love You, a California organization for Petite Sirah enthusiasts, is proof of this varietal’s robust following.
Try Petite Sirah with sweet barbequed chicken, a cold roast beef sandwich with mustard, or mild blue cheeses.More about food and wine
- Pinot NoirPinot Noir’s juicy cherry flavors and floral notes complement hints of earth and leather for a wine that is at turns delicate, rich, silky, subtle – and always intriguing. A cool-climate grape, it does exceptionally well in our breezy coastal regions.
Try Pinot Noir with wood-smoked bacon, roast leg of veal or grilled wild salmon.More about food and wine
- Red BlendsBlends have long been a part of California wine culture. These days a combination of adventurous spirit, masterful artistry and creative freedom has resulted in a new generation of expressive, harmonious and distinctly Californian blends. There’s virtually no end to the range of flavors, prices and surprises.
Try a California red blend with pulled pork tacos, barbecued chicken wings, or slow-cooked short ribs.More about food and wine
- SangioveseCalifornia’s Sangiovese is fruit forward, with spice, cherry and raspberry flavors complemented by subtle floral aromas.
Try Sangiovese with sausage and caramelized onions, or pork chops with plum conserve.More about food and wine
- SyrahThis noble red grape produces bold,complex and long-lived wines. Smooth yet rich with concentrated dark fruit flavors and hints of black pepper and smoke, it’s easy to see why Syrah enjoys such popularity.
Try Syrah with robust, hearty foods—from black bean chili with pork, to buffalo sliders or rich beef stews.More about food and wine
- TempranilloCalifornia vintners craft tempranillo into wines with delightful layers of flavor. Bright cherries, raspberry, and strawberry are complemented by earthy, leathery notes in this varietal.
Try Tempranillo with dill-poached salmon, pork tenderloin with cilantro pesto, or steamed mussels.More about food and wine
- ZinfandelBold and rambunctious, Zinfandel can take your palate on an odyssey of flavor, from raspberry to black pepper, cloves and licorice. One of our oldest and most revered vines, we’re proud to call Zinfandel our signature grape.
Try Zinfandel with barbecued free-range beef, lamb, pork, chicken or spicy sausage.More about food and wine
RosÉ, Sparkling & Dessert wines
- RoséThe red berry flavors of rosé are especially refreshing on cool autumn evenings and hot summer days. This wine style ranges in flavor from delicate, refined and dry to bright and sweet with a hint of creaminess.
Try California rosé with everything from spicy sauces to crisp, light salads.More about food and wine
- SparklingThe crisp acidity of California sparkling wine pairs as easily with Tuesday night dinner as it does with a glamorous affair. Sparkling wine has been produced in California since the 1870’s, often from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in the méthode champenoise.
Try California sparkling wine with everything from Szechuan stir fry to triple crème cheeses.More about food and wine
- Dessert winesAlso called late harvest wines, these deep elixirs provide a sweet end to any meal, while retaining just enough acidity to remain refreshing. They are made from a number of varietals, including Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Zinfandel.
Try dessert wines with nuts—almonds and hazelnuts—as well as chocolate tortes, vanilla custard, peach cobbler and ricotta cheesecake. In general, aim to pair sweet dessert wines with sweet desserts, and light dessert wines with light desserts.More about food and wine
- ChardonnayFrom unoaked and fruit-forward with hints of minerality to rich and toasty with vanilla and butter, the spectrum of flavors and aromas in California Chardonnay is as broad as the microclimates where the grape is grown. Chardonnay is the state’s most widely planted grape.
- Chenin BlancChenin Blanc is nothing if not versatile. Primarily a blending grape that adds light melon, peach, citrus and spice to off-dry whites and sparkling wines, select wineries bottle Chenin Blanc as a crisp and refreshing varietal.
Try Chenin Blanc with seared scallops, chicken in coconut curry, or sliced ripe pears with fresh or slightly aged sheep’s milk cheeses.More about food and wine
- GewürtztraminerThe deep golden color, hints of spice, and floral fragrance are just the start of this grape’s charms. This varietal is full bodied yet crisp, with notes of lychee and roses.
Try Gewürtztraminer with smoked white fish, spicy stir-fried dishes, or slightly sweet desserts.More about food and wine
- Grenache BlancRich, full-bodied, and crisp, Grenache Blanc is known for flavors and aromas of citrus, peach and apple. It’s a popular grape along the central coast.
Try Grenache Blanc with crab, squid, or clams with garlic butter as well as grilled snapper with lemon zest.More about food and wine
- MarsanneMarsanne is as full-bodied as it is versatile. Deeply colored with aromas of almond and honeysuckle, this grape makes wines that can be light, dry or sweet. In California, Marsanne is crafted into a Rhône-style wine, often with signature hints of beeswax and tropical fruits.
Try Marsanne with creamy potato-leek soup or roasted butternut squash with cinnamon butter.More about food and wine
- Muscat/MoscatoYou may know the tangy, fruity Muscat from its Italian name, Moscato. Muscat comes in a range of styles, from medium-bodied and dry or off-dry, to sparkling, to full-bodied, late-harvest, deliciously sweet wines.
Try sparkling and late-harvest Muscat with fruit tarts, vanilla custard, dark chocolate torte, or rich cheesecake.More about food and wine
- Pinot BlancDelicate and refreshing, with flavors of green apple, melon, citrus and minerals, Pinot Blanc shares a similar flavor and texture with certain styles of Chardonnay. It pairs well with a wide variety of light, fresh foods.
Try Pinot Blanc with pan-fried fresh trout, seared tuna, or smoked salmon.More about food and wine
- RieslingPrior to Prohibition, Riesling was the most widely planted grape in Napa Valley.This popular varietal is known for its floral aromas, mineral notes and flavors of apples, pear and hints of tropical fruit. It’s also versatile; Riesling can go from dry to sweet, spicy to honey-like.
Try Riesling with Thai spring rolls, spicy stir-fried chicken, or a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on rustic country bread.More about food and wine
- RoussanneRoussanne is a delicate wine with crisp acidity and fresh herbal aromas. In California, the grape is grown primarily on the central coast, and crafted into a single-varietal wine or made into Rhône-style blends.
Pair with honey-glazed ham or butternut squash ravioli.More about food and wine
- Sauvignon BlancAlways crisp and refreshing, California vintners like to put their own spin on this classic varietal, with flavors that range from vibrant lemongrass and herb to tart green apple, round melon and fig.
Try Sauvignon Blanc with wild mushroom soup, grilled red snapper, or asparagus – especially sautéed in garlic.More about food and wine
- SemillonWhen dry, California Semillon is bright and citrusy; when crafted into a dessert wine, the result is succulent and sweet. Semillon is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and is sought after too, as a single varietal wine.
- ViognierThis full-bodied varietal is known for its floral aromatics, lushness on the palate and long finish. An array of complex flavors, from apricot and orange blossom to violet and rose, give Viognier its irresistible allure.
Try Viognier with smoked oysters or mussels, or herb-roasted free-range chicken, goose or duck.More about food and wine
- White BlendsCalifornia winemakers combine a natural sense of inventiveness with keen understanding of many types of white grapes to create masterful blends that win awards, please palates and pair deliciously with a wide diversity of cuisines.
Try a California white blend with fresh seafood, cold roast chicken, creamy polenta, or a range of cheeses—from ricotta to triple crème, from goat cheese to dry Jack.More about food and wine
Poised to Pour
Click on each glass to explore the flavor profiles of California’s most popular varietals.