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California’s most praised white wine, Chardonnay is also the state’s most planted white grape variety. Diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles.
Chardonnay planted in the cooler, coastal zones takes on bright characteristics like lemon zest, key lime, green apple and wet flint. For this style, look to the chilly Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Lucia Highlands and Edna Valley.
The inland zones of California’s coast, such as the Russian River, Sonoma, Napa and Livermore Valleys maintain a more Goldilocks-esque climate where both styles go. Early picking retains acidity and creates a leaner style but leaving the grapes to hang creates an approachable Chardonnay, balancing richness and finesse.