What is a wine appellation?
A wine appellation refers to a legally defined and protected area identifying where the grapes for a wine were grown. Appellation classification embraces the area of production, the vine growing and the winemaking process.
It is commonly found on the wine label and it gives an indication of the origin of the wine. Think of it as a “geographical pedigree”!
Also, a wine Appellation could have several names and can represent different levels of quality (AOC in France, DOCG in Italy, IGT…etc). Each country has its own appellation system and rules. In the United States, appellations of origin can be the names of states and counties, or subdivisions also called American Viticultural Areas (AVA). The type of appellation will determine the minimum percentage of grapes grown in the stated area (from 75% to 100%).
Let’s take a tour of some of the famous US appellations!
Did you know? With more than 420,000 acres of vines and 107 AVAs, California is one of the largest wine producers in the world. If California was a country, it would be the fourth largest wine producer in the world behind France, Italy, and Spain. Two out of every three bottles of wine sold in America comes from California!
About 2 hours north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is well known for producing some of the world’s best wines. It is home to 400 wineries set amid rolling hills.
With a sunny climate, diverse nature of soils and Pacific Coast influence , Napa is one of the most fascinating wine spots on earth and ideal ‘terroir’ for Bordeaux varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The microclimates in each appellation are warm enough to fully ripe red Bordeaux varieties, especially ‘Cab Sav’.
Our Pick: OAKVILLE - CABERNET SAUVIGNON - NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
The Pelissa family has been fortunate to own and farm vineyards in Napa Valley for over 100 years. Pelissa Vineyard Oakville is the hub of Napa’s Cabernet fame and the new generation feels a great responsibility to perpetuate that legacy. The Oakville wines are both grown and produced in the Oakville AVA. This distinction compels them to guard both the quality of the wine and the annuity of the land for generations to come. Certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers, Oakville Winery uses organic vineyard management techniques.
Tasting notes: This Cabernet Sauvignon reflects modern Oakville style. Aromas of black fruits and notes of vibrant cedar. Richness of black cherry and black currant. A well-structured wine with a rounded mouth-feel and undertones of toast and smoke. Medium- bodied with bold tannins; this wine will drink well for the next 10 years.
Food pairing: rich, hearty dishes, especially those with red meat especially rib eyes and lamb chops.
Sonoma County has a long history as one of the premier agricultural regions of the United States. With more than 250 wineries, it is famous for its delicate Pinot Noir.
Sonoma County is one of the most diverse winegrowing regions in the world. Due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean, the climate flows from West to East, rather than from North to South. The Eastern appellations are warm, dry, but cool enough to retain the natural acidity needed to make timeless, age-worthy wines, perfect for great Pinot Noir.
Our Pick: CASTLE ROCK "RESERVE" - PINOT NOIR - RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, SONOMA, CALIFORNIA
Castle Rock Reserve Pinot Noir is made from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, one of California's most prestigious grape growing appellations. Here, the fog-cooled climate and well-drained soils provide ideal growing conditions for grapes which produce some of the finest wines in the world. Warm days ensure the development of varietal character, while cool nights maintain balanced acidity.
Tasting notes: This supple, medium-bodied wine offers rich complex layers of plum, cherry, sweet vanilla oak, spice, cinnamon and floral notes, with a long velvety finish.
Food pairing: It is excellent with lamb, chicken, salmon and light pasta dishes.
Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California. The red style Lodi Zinfandels have a reputation for being juicy and approachable.
Our Pick: 7 DEADLY ZINS - ZINFANDEL - LODI, CALIFORNIA
Michael David Winery founders related the Seven Sins from their Catholic school upbringing to the seven Old Vine Zinfandels blended in their wine, and created 7 Deadly Zins, America’s favourite Zinfandel.
Sinful indeed! This wickedly delicious Zin is temptation at first sip. Their flagship Old Vine Zinfandel hails from the enviable Lodi Appellation where Zin reigns supreme.
Tasting notes: Crushed berry, soft oak and cigar box notes create a fragrant appeal. A full body with a spicy fruity nose of black cherry, mild pepper and tobacco.
Food pairing: A wine to enjoy from start to finish. BBQ salmon, prime rib or grilled veggies. As well as tomato based foods, spicy cold cuts, sharp cheese like Gouda or Cheddar. And dark chocolate desserts!
Home to almost 800 wineries, Oregon has an ideal cooler climate that makes it suitable for growing grapes varieties from Burgundy such as Pinot Noir.
Due to altitude vineyard, Pacific coast influence rainy climate and ancient marine sediment soils Yamhill-Carlton AVA is known to produce Oregon’s exceptional Pinot Noir Wines.
Our Pick: CUMMINS ROAD - PINOT NOIR - OREGON - YAMHILL - CARLTON, OREGON
Since the first vintage in 2006, Merriman Wines has been working to produce exceptional Oregon wines. The dry farmed, east facing vineyard slope allows the cool breezes at night and warm morning sun to grow the grapes slowly, giving the wine its complexity and allowing the unique terroir of the vineyard to come through in your glass.
Tasting notes: Christmas cookie spice and campfire smoke give way to a deep, red plum followed by a lift of nectarine notes. The cold soak after picking and partial whole cluster fermentation give the wine a deep ruby colour and leathery tannin that rounds out the finish.
Food pairing: Fatty fowl like turkey, goose and duck, but also salmon (for the fat too). Oily components such as hazelnuts, roasted root vegetables, and for dessert, a dark chocolate that’s not too bitter.
Columbia Valley is the largest wine region in the state of Washington. The unique climates of the area allow the Columbia Valley to produce wines that are very fruit-forward, like California wines, but which also retain some of the balance and structure of European wine.
Chardonnay is Washington’s Number 3 grape and its Number 1 white wine. Minerality, balance, good acidity and food-friendly flavours are the driving forces of Washington Chardonnay wines.
Our Pick: WHISPERING TREE - CHARDONNAY - COLUMBIA VALLEY - WASHINGTON STATE
The Milbrandt Family brings an adventurous spirit and lifestyle to winemaking that is captured in each bottle. The warm, sunny climate, large diurnal temperature swings, and extended sunlight hours during the summer months allow grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. And the uniquely intricate soils of the vineyards bring character and personality to their wines.
Tasting notes: A tasty Chardonnay with bright aromas of lees and baked apple, leading to a lightly viscous feeling of sweet fruit flavours that linger. Notes of fresh pineapple, Anjou pear, honeydew melon and crisp apple. A rich, textural elegance on the mid palate showcases lush, juicy tangerine and lemon cream. Well balanced with a touch of oak, the finish is clean, crisp and refreshing.
Food pairing: with subtly flavoured, simply seasoned poultry and pork dishes. Rich fish (salmon, tuna), meaty fish (halibut, cod) or shellfish (lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops) in creamy sauce.