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California Sherry United States

California as a wine producing region has grown in size and importance considerably over the past couple of centuries, and today is the proud producer of more than ninety percent of the United States' wines. Indeed, if California was a country, it would be the fourth largest producer of wine in the world, with a vast range of vineyards covering almost half a million acres. The secret to California's success as a wine region has a lot to do with the high quality of its soils, and the fact that it has an extensive Pacific coastline which perfectly tempers the blazing sunshine it experiences all year round. The winds coming off the ocean cool the vines, and the natural valleys and mountainsides which make up most of the state's wine regions make for ideal areas in which to cultivate a variety of high quality grapes.

Sherry is made in a unique way using the solera system, which blends fractional shares of young wine from oak barrels with older, more mature wines. Sherry has no vintage date because it is blended from a variety of years. Rare, old sherries can contain wine that dates back 25 to 50 years or more, the date the solera was begun. If a bottle has a date on it, it probably refers to the date the company was founded.

Most sherries begin with the Palomino grape, which enjoys a generally mild climate in and around the triad of towns known as the "Sherry Triangle" and grows in white, limestone and clay soils that look like beach sand. The Pedro Ximenez type of sweet sherry comes from the Pedro Ximenez grape.

Sherry is a "fortified" wine, which means that distilled, neutral spirits are used to fortify the sherry. The added liquor means that the final sherry will be 16 to 20 percent alcohol (higher than table wines) and that it will have a longer shelf life than table wines.

Of all the New World wine countries, perhaps the one which has demonstrated the most flair for producing high quality wines - using a combination of traditional and forward-thinking contemporary methods - has been the United States of America. For the past couple of centuries, the United States has set about transforming much of its suitable land into vast vineyards, capable of supporting a wide variety of world-class grape varietals which thrive on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coastlines. Of course, we immediately think of sun-drenched California in regards to American wines, with its enormous vineyards responsible for the New World's finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot based wines, but many other states have taken to viticulture in a big way, with impressive results. Oregon, Washington State and New York have all developed sophisticated and technologically advanced wine cultures of their own, and the output of U.S wineries is increasing each year as more and more people are converted to their produce.