Beyond Typical California Wines

When you hear “California Wines“, what is the first wine styles to pop into your mind? Perhaps – Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir or Chardonnay? Well, it’s true that California has established themselves as a quality producer of these styles, however it’s not the only varietals they are growing.

Recently, I attended a California Wine Tasting in Vancouver, BC. And, I decided to approach it differently. This time, I decided to try as many “not typical” varietals being showcased as I could. Because, I wanted to learn about those other wines they produce. And it was a nice surprise to see how many wineries are exploring winemaking with different grape varieties!

Here’s a list of some new favourites who are exploring “outside the box” with different varietals, but I urge you to explore beyond this list!


Birichino (one of my new favourites)

>Muscat Canelli (from Monterey) – a sweet, luscious dessert style wine

>Grenache Blanc from Besson Vineyard Vignes Cent (from Central Coast) – lively, crisp and tart white wine

>Malvasia Bianca (from Monterey) – aromatic and very interesting, this is an old world varietal!



Bonny Doon Vineyard

>A Proper Claret – a Bordeaux style with Tannat and Syrah added

>Contra – made from Carignan, it was concentrated, inky with medium tannins

>Le Cigare Volant – made from a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault (old world all the way!)

Huneeus Wines

>Flowers Pinot Noir (from Sonoma Coast) – a high-end, well done, balanced Pinot!

>Flowers Chardonnay (from Sonoma Coast) – balanced, subtle and delicious, not overly oaked!

Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards

>Toccata Malvasia Bianca (from Santa Barbara County) – an off-dry white wine with good aromatics

Laurel Glen Vineyard

>Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon (from Sonoma) – the vineyard was planted in 1847 – had to share this!


>Las Brisas Vineyard Vermentino (from Carneros) – this grapes is usually found in Italy, aromatic, light with fresh acidity

Miner Family Winery

>Sangiovese (from Mendocino) – bright red fruits and acidity with medium tannins


>Brut Rose – (sparkling) my favourite of the bunch, just a little more lift and notes than the rest, soooo good! Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay

>Blanc de Noirs – (sparkling) toasty with crisp green apple, made from Pinot Noir

>Blanc de Blancs – (sparkling), minerally and zippy, made from Chardonnay

Somerston Estate

>Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc (from Napa) – the only one growing this grape in Napa now, smooth, medium body with simple notes (this is an old world grape)

The Dreaming Tree

>Everyday, White Blend (from Central Coast) – a blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Albarino (usually found in Spain), Viognier, it was dry and minerally and its coming to Vancouver this summer


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