Colombard, have you heard of it? It’s a lesser-known wine grape varietal that grows in surprising quantities right here in California. Native to France’s South West region known as Côtes de Gascogne, here Colombard is predominantly blended with other grapes (or other fruits) and then distilled into eaux-de-vie, Cognac, and Armagnac.
Despite its French heritage, California has the highest number of Colombard vineyards in the world and, in fact, Colombard is one of the most planted white wine grape varieties in the whole state. So why is it that we see so little of it?
I feel like Monterey is one of the most under-rated AVAs in California. In fact I just got into a heated discussion with someone about whether or not the minutiae of the appellations (in regards to soil, climate, etc) vary as greatly as the famed Napa Valley. Not really a fair question — two different regions with two completely different things going on geographically. Take the Santa Lucia Highlands — most notably affected by its proximity to the Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean. And while they’re no Mayacamas Mountains, the vineyards of the Highlands, planted along terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, can reach to as high as 3,000 feet in elevation. Thus it seems obvious to say that vineyards planted way up high facing the water are going to have their own unique microclimate compared to those even just a few hundred feet below them facing the opposite direction. So are their as many variances in Monterey’s SLH as the craggy mountain rages of Napa? Probably not. It’s a smaller appellation, but the variances here are no less important.
Fun Fact: The Santa Lucia Highlands is home to one of the vineyards named a California “Grand Cru” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, recognizing that this location can produce some of the highest-quality wine grapes.
Although New Zealand’s winemaking history dates back to the colonial days, during Brittain’s settlement and development of the area, it wasn’t until the 1960s and into the 1970s that New Zealand was put on the winemaking map. At this time there was an influx of New Zealanders traveling abroad to Europe, experiencing the wines and vines of that continent, and bringing home with them the knowledge and the passion to put their own “kiwi” twist on the Old World’s drink.
But it seems that it’s only within this new millennium, that the rest of the world has taken an interest in what this little pocket of terroir has to offer the wine industry.