Great wine begins with great grapes. Capitalizing on the state’s diverse geography and climates, California wine-grape growers can grow a wide range of grape varieties and styles. The Golden State boasts more than 100 different varieties of wine grapes, thanks to its diverse topography, soils, climates and growers.

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With respect for tradition and a propensity for innovation, California’s wine-grape growers are able to produce some of the best grapes, and wines, in the world. Here’s a look at some of California’s most notable wine grapes:


Chardonnay (White)

Chardonnay is one of the most popular wines in the U.S., and there is more chardonnay planted in California than any other variety. Chardonnay grapes thrive in cool coastal climates, but can also work in warmer climates that turn cooler at night.

Taste: Chardonnay is a chameleon and can display flavors of citrus, apple, pear and/or tropical fruit. Depending on the vintner’s winemaking techniques, chardonnays may be buttery, toasty, or even carry smoky overtones from barrel aging.

Perfect Food Matches: Lobster, especially with butter, oysters, sautéed scallops, roast sea bass, salmon, grilled swordfish, roast chicken with herbs and roast veal.

Varietal grape photos: Copyright © The Regents of the University of California.


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