UC Davis and California Wines

Many wine consumers and critics assume that the best wines in the world are produced in California. But once, California wines were known as faulty wines. The University of California at Davis has a key role in this transformation from the worst to the best wine production in the red state.

The history of California wines is dated back to Spanish Missionaries in California. Spanish Franciscan Missionaries started vineyard planting in 1769 to produce wine for communion. Father Junípero Serra planted the first variety. It was common everywhere and known as the Mission grape. It was a prominent variety until 1880.

In the 1800s, UC soil scientists researched methods to remove salt from alkaline soil. This converted barren soil into fertile. It was a turning point for California agriculture and helped grow many fruits, including grape varieties. It was the start of today’s finest California wines.

After seeing the potential of California to produce world-class wines, the California Legislature Assembly Bill 374 mandated the University of California Davis establish a research and instruction program in viticulture and oenology on April 15, 1880.

The word oenology, derived from the Greek oînos (wine) and lógos (science) refers to the science dedicated to the study and knowledge of wines.

Eugen Hilgard, the professor of UC Davis, was the director of the first State Agricultural Experiment Station. He has made immense contributions to soil science and studied California soil for suitable grape varieties. He considered the California climate ideal for wines and developed phylloxera resistant grape varieties.

The wine industry in California was growing at a pace when congress passed the National Prohibition Act also known as Volstead Act on October 28, 1919. This act banned the production, transportation and sales of alcoholic beverages. The act proved a killer to the wine industry and the growth of the industry was halted. People replaced vineyards with fruit trees and the wine industry was completely destroyed.

The Prohibition Act was repealed on 5 December 1933. The Department of viticulture and enology was established at the University of California, Davis campus in 1935. Maynard Amerine was the first faculty member. He was a researcher in the sensory evaluation of wines, fermentation and cultivation and wrote 16 books and 44 articles that contributed significantly to the development of California wines.

Maynard Amerine and his colleagues researched which grape variety is the best in which climate. In 1944, they gave a detailed study on suitable regions for various types of wines. This was the initiation of the appellation system that is still used worldwide.

On 24 May 1976, a British wine merchant Steven Spurrier and his colleague, Patricia organized a wine competition in Paris, which is known as Judgment of Paris. California’s wines were competent to the French wines. The judging panel was solely French, but when results came out, California wines ranked highest in the competition. French wines were considered the best among all available at that time. Today, Californian wines are one of the finest wines and famous worldwide.

California wines

Today, California competes with France, Spain and Italy in quality wine production. California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world and accounts for 90% of American wine production. It contributes up to $35 billion to the state economy. Simply, Californian wines are the finest wines in the world.

Want to read more about wine? Try reading these books!

The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste

Wines of California: The Comprehensive Guide

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