California, USA Dating back sum 240 years ago, California wine started in San Diego at the Mission de Alcalá, the first Franciscan mission in The Californias. After the gold rush in 1849, wineries then began to populate in Northern California around Sonoma and Napa Valley and the industry took off. Things slowed down during prohibition, of course, but after winning in both the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon categories during The Judgement of Paris in 1976, California (particularly Napa Valley) was back on the map. California now makes up for 80% of wine made in the U.S. California, famous for its fruit-forward, audacious wines that focus grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. California is characterized by a mediterranean climate, making this region ideal for full-bodies red wines. That being said, many areas closer to the Pacific Ocean benefit from cooling winds and layers of fog that are beneficial for grapes including Pinot Noir and many white wines.