Media Conversations

California Sparkling Wine Sneaks Up on Champagne

“Champagne lovers are legion. Prosecco enthusiasts are even more numerous (albeit perhaps not quite as discerning). But who are the fans of California sparkling wine? I don’t know anyone who drinks or buys or even talks very much about it. And yet California wineries sold nearly 9 million cases of sparkling wine in the U.S. this past year—more than all the sparkling wine imported to this country combined, according to the Wine Institute. Clearly, people are drinking it somewhere.

“…Several California sparkling-wine producers were founded locally, perhaps most famously Schramsberg, created by the late Jack and Jamie Davies in Napa Valley and now run by son Hugh. (If California sparkling has a cult wine, it’s probably Schramsberg.) 

“…produced by the same process as is Champagne, called the méthode traditionnelle. An expensive and time-consuming approach in which the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle, this system is used in making virtually all quality sparkling wine in California

“…I invited six friends—all impassioned wine drinkers—to join me for my tasting. Not one could remember the last time they’d purchased a California sparkling wine. ‘I don’t even think our local wine shop carries them,’ said my friend Sue, who drinks mostly Prosecco.

“…the 2010 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut, which was toasty and rich. My conclusion?…the California sparkling wines represent an appealing midway point of both price and complexity between prestigious Champagne and fun but forgettable Prosecco. They were solid and reliable, even if their image could use a bit more, well, sparkle.”

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Lettie Teague, August 1, 2014
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California Sparkling Wine Sneaks Up on Champagne