The broad array of red grapes used in the Korbel Sweet Rose blend give us an incredibly diverse selection of blending alternatives. Varieties like Pinot Noir, Gamay and Zinfandel give us light bright wines with high levels of acidity. The Sangiovese is more intensely aromatic, while the syrah contributes a deeper color and more tannin for body and richness.
The Korbel Winery began operation in 1882. Two years later, noted winemaker Frank Hasek came to California from Prague and become the first Korbel champagne-master. Employing méthode champenoise, the time-honored French technique of producing champagne, the Korbels quietly experimented with various cuvées. And by the turn of the century, Korbel had become an internationally known and award-winning champagne label. The tradition was kept alive for the next half-century until 1954, when the winery was sold to Adolf Heck. Adolf Heck arrived in Sonoma with yeast cultures in hand. He brought and preserved them from his native Germany and they are still in use today. In 1956 he re-introduced Korbel Brut in a style that was lighter and drier than any American champagne on the market, making it the first champagne developed specifically for American tastes. He also invented and patented the first automatic riddling machine which eliminated the danger of exploding bottles.
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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.
An excellent wine for the big Sunday Brunch. Being sweet but not cloyingly so, lends itself to the myriad of flavors found at the table. Goes well with smokey bacon, salty cheeses or ham, spicey sausages, and sweet jam or honey flavors of the meal. Also holds it own with the coffee. An excellent choice for special occasions.
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.