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Californian Wines


The California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century brought waves of new settlers to the region, increasing the population and local demand for wine. The newly growing wine industry took hold in Northern California around the counties of Sonoma County AVA and Napa. During this period some of California's oldest wineries were founded including Buena Vista Winery, Charles Krug Winery, Inglenook Winery and Schramsberg Vineyard. Chinese immigrants played a prominent role in the developing of the Californian wine industry during this period-building wineries, planting vineyards, digging the underground cellars and harvesting grapes. Some even assisted as winemakers prior to the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act which severely affected the Chinese community in favor of encouraging "white labor." By 1890, most of the Chinese were out of the wine industry.

In the late 19th century California witnessed the advent of the phylloxera epidemic which had already ravaged French and other European vineyards. Vineyards were destroyed and many smaller operations went out of business. Fortunately the remedy of grafting resistant American rootstock was well known and the Californian wine industry was able to quickly rebound and utilized the opportunity to expand the plantings of new grape varieties. By the turn of the 20th century nearly 300 grape varieties were being grown in the state, supplying its nearly 800 wineries.



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