Enticing and delicate aromas of white nectarine and vanilla spice are intertwined with baked apple and caramel notes. The aromas carry through to the palate where they are accented by ripe melon and fresh pineapple flavors. The velvety mouthfeel of this well-balanced Chardonnay persists throughout the lingering and refreshing citrus finish.
The lush and approachable flavors of this balanced wine make it a versatile, food-friendly choice. Try it with baked halibut, roasted poultry or a savory pecan tart.
Newton Vineyard Winery
Peter and Su Hua Newton purchased one square mile of tumbling slopes high up on Spring Mountain overlooking St. Helena in 1977. The Estate was planted to Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Merlot thrives in a land which is rocky mixed with clay beneath the surface, while Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot like an impoverished soil, and Cabernet Sauvignon is happy in stony loam. The mountainous slopes of the vineyards not only have these soils, but also a full range of exposures. Spring Mountain provides the vines get all the sunlight they need without any baking heat stress.
Chardonnay needs chalky or loamy soil in a cooler region. Newton owns an old vineyard in Carneros and also has long-term grape contracts for several hillside vineyards verging on that region. Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay, introduced in 1990, is said to be the first unfiltered wine produced and sold in California, and is now regarded as an industry benchmark.
Su Hua insists on picking only ripe grapes from the vine. Her method of quality control is to be involved in every aspect of the harvest, during which time she can be found every day among the pickers. To ensure that only ripe grapes are harvested, there can be up to four separate pickings in a single vineyard - very difficult to do but, she believes, there is no other way to produce a great wine.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.