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When and where was the first known vineyard planted in California?

In 1824 near the town of Sonoma was the site of the first California vineyard. It was Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a Spanish army officer, who laid out the town of Sonoma and planted 1,000 acres of vineyards just outside of town. He named his vineyard, Lachryma Montis, or "Tears of the Mountain", referring to a mountain spring which he used to irrigate the vineyard. Perhaps better known for starting the California wine rush, is Buena Vista Winery which was started by Agoston Haraszthy in 1856.

True or False. The shape of a wine glass from which you drink, can affect the taste of wine.

True. It has long been acknowledged that the shape of a glass profoundly influences the amount and intensity of the aroma and the actual taste of a wine. In general the best wine glasses hold a generous amount of wine in a clear plain glass cup shape, with no engraving or cutting, that curves inward to collect and contain the "nose" or scent of the wine. Perhaps the best wine glasses on the market are designed and manufactured by Riedel (REE-dle). They have created specific glasses for each category of wine to enhance its particular needs.

Why are over half of the vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay?

Simple economics. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the two varietals in highest consumer demand, thus commanding the highest market prices. With the exception of Sparkling wine, the public is willing to pay a premium price for these two varietals. Sadly, these two varietals are increasingly being grown without regard to the appropriateness of the site or even the result of the wine. As a consequence, three are many ordinary, uninteresting Cabernets and Chardonnays on the market today.

Originally published in our Gold Wine Club's The Wine Press, Newlan Winery edition featured in 1994!