StateWays - July/August 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays ■ ■ July/August 2015 42 I n 2011, acclaimed sommelier Rajat Parr, partner and propri- etor of Domaine de la Côte and Sandhi in Santa Barbara's Sta. Rita Hills, co-founded In Pursuit of Balance, a non-profi t organization that puts the spotlight on California-made Char- donnay and Pinot Noir. The response has been strong. With 33 well-regarded wineries joining In Pursuit of Balance (such as Au Bon Climat, Flowers and Twomey), and 2015 events spanning New York, San Francisco, Houston, Osaka and Tokyo, there is undoubtedly a desire among industry infl uencers to illu- minate wines that are balanced, non-manipulated and redolent of California's unique and motley terroirs. The rich, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon that stole the show at the 1976 Judgment of Paris may have long defi ned the aggressive style of winemaking favored by Napa Valley behemoths, but today, California, the country's largest producer of wine, is fast becoming known for leaner, refi ned expressions made outside of the saturated epicen- ter of fabled tasting rooms. Changing Perceptions "The overall perception here is that the California wine pen- dulum is swinging back towards more restrained and balanced wines," says Jennifer DiDomizio, who runs the shop California Wine Merchants with Taylor Senatore in New York's Financial District. "In the rest of the country, I don't think it's changed much from the idea that California wines are generally big, bold and in-your-face. In many other states, the selection of California wines is more homogenized and includes less choice from larger scale wineries." A visit to California in the 1980s and 1990s would have as- sured copious glasses of oak-forward Chardonnay and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon churned out by large-volume producers, the Bordeaux varietals and luxurious styles dominating the scene. Of course, the predilection for these wines remains strong. They are very much a thriving component of California's winemaking tradition, forever entrenched in its culture. Then the other trends started to emerge: the Rhone Rangers championing grape varieties from the South of France, the plant- ing of "Cal-Ital" grapes, the ascension of well-hidden AVAs, and the rise of indie producers trying to compete with the big guys' impressive marketing muscles by fl exing their own quality wines made without fanfare. In particular, California Wine Merchants' stock revolves OFF THE BEATEN PATH: CALIFORNIA'S LESSER-KNOWN AVAS THERE'S MORE TO CALIFORNIA WINE THAN ROBUST FLAVORS AND WORLD-FAMOUS VINEYARDS. BY ALIA AKKAM

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