California: the vineyard of the US

I am studying for my Sommelier exam that it happens to be next Wednesday.

The exam is quite hard, it consists of 2 parts, a written examination (20 True/ False, 20 Multiple answer, 12 open questions and 2 wine tastings – one analytical descriptive and one pairing) – all in 2 hours – and then, after 2 weeks, an  oral examination (15-20 mins of questions and also a wine tasting).

This experience at the Sommelier course has been amazing: I met so many interesting people also here in London, attending the classes with me and I will do my best to stay in contact with them.

The UK Sommelier Association  (which is a delegation of the AIS, e.g. the Italian Sommelier Association) is fantastic, I truly enjoyed this journey in the wine (and not only) world, that started in Milan in January 2014. I cannot believe that I finished the classes yesterday… Maybe, who knows, I will find a way to help to spread knowledge and culture about wine, which is the mission and aim of the AIS, I would be honoured.

I love how the wine world can intersect the data viz world
So, I was reading about US and wines some days ago and I saw this chart about California on one of the book I am studying for the exam:


I decided to make a viz out of it (of course) – I used both Alteryx for data prep and Tableau for data viz.

So, California is also the main producer of wine in the US  and also some really interesting wines. I searched as well for data about the wine production. It happened I found some data about wine production on statista

So I build in Tableau this dashboard, which you can find as well on my tableau public, clicking here:


Basically, California produces an unbelievable quantity of wine compared to the rest of US (Oregon is the second producer by importance), having the 90% of the production and around 300.000 ha of vineyards, due to the “Mediterranean” and optimal climate. The regions where the best quality wines are produced are Sonoma and Napa Valley, while Central Valley is the region with the highest production.

Around the 60% of the vineyards are red grapes and the two most loved and relevant grapes in California are Chardonnay (white grapes) and Cabernet Sauvignon  (red grapes). The third is the Zinfandel, which is the Primitivo in Italy (really famous in Apulia).

What about Californian Chardonnay?

Usually, the fermentation and aging of the Chardonnay happens usually in barrique. This enhances and develops spices and toasted flavours of the wine, which has also typical notes of exotic fruit, butter and brioche, dry fruit, smoothness and an important complexity and structure, and long length.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel?

The most produced red grapes, they give the best results in regions with fresh air. Cab usually is quite complex, with a pleasant bouquet, red fruit, black pepper, chocolate, spices and coffee notes. It is smooth and the tannins are not strong but soft. ZInfandel has a typical ribes and cherries flavour, some herbaceous notes and anise and black pepper notes.

In the next blog about wine I will try to write about some specific varieties of grapes and I will provide an intro to wine tasting for beginners.

I hope you enjoyed the reading!


2 thoughts on “California: the vineyard of the US

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