2012 California Wine Month

by Monica Bennion on September 18, 2012

On July 31, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed a Proclamation by the Governor of the State of California declaring September as California Wine Month.  This marks the 8th consecutive year, by proclamation, that California celebrates the booming wine industry, although California has been growing grapes and making wines since the 18th century, if not earlier.  The California wine industry, from agriculture to wineries, consists primarily of small family owned and operated businesses.   These businesses, in 2011, generated $19.9 billion dollars in retail sales and brought in over 20.7 million tourists.

The harvest is well underway here in California, and according to Scott, it is going to be a “normal” year, which possibly means quantity and quality.  (Read more on Scott’s initial thoughts for the 2012 Harvest)

Although we will not have the numbers for 2012 until early next year, we thought we would take a look back at the last two “abnormal” years (2010 & 2011) and see how they compare.  Both years were cool and wet, with long-lasting winters, late frost and early rains.  However, if you look at the numbers, you can see that even with a decrease in the harvest in 2011, the sales and exports continued to grow.


  • MOST POPULAR WINE VARIETIES(By way of market share):
    • Chardonnay (21%)
    • Cabernet Sauvignon (12%
    • Merlot (10%)
    • Pinot Grigio/Gris (8%)
    • White Zinfandel (7%)


  • UP AND COMING NEW FAVORITES(By way of sales among consumers and market share):
    • Sweet Red Wines – Growth of 200% (Represents 1% market share)
    • Muscat/Moscato – Growth of 73% (Represents 4% market share)
    • Malbec – Growth of 33% (Represents 1% market share)
    • Pinot Noir – Growth of 12% (Represents 4% market share)


    • NORTH COAST – 3,008,000 Acres
      • Lake County
      • Marin County
      • Mendocino County
      • Napa County
      • Solano County
      • Sonoma County
    • SIERRA FOOTHILLS – 2,600,000 Acres
      • Amador County
      • Calaveras County
      • El Dorado County
      • Mariposa County
      • Nevada County
      • Placer County
      • Tuolumne County
      • Yuba County
    • SAN FRANCISCO BAY – 1,566,713 Acres
      • Alameda County
      • Contra Costa County
      • San Benito County (partial)
      • San Francisco County
      • San Mateo County
      • Santa Clara County
      • Santa Cruz County (partial)

*Other American Viticultural Areas exist within the counties noted above, such as the California Shenandoah Valley in Amador County (10,000 acres) and the Napa Valley in Napa County (225,280 acres).  The acreage for these American Viticultural Areas is not calculated in with the acreage noted for the Sierra Foothills and North Coast.  You can learn more about all of the American Viticultural Areas by visiting the resources listed with The Wine Institute

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