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California Sparkling Wine / Champagne

Sparkling wine is a beverage that evokes celebration and luxury, but due to its versatility, it is increasingly being embraced by Americans as a wine for everyday occasions. California vintners produce sparkling wines in styles ranging from bone dry to sweet, which makes the wine a natural partner for a variety of foods.

More than 300 California wineries produce sparkling wine, and the state’s vintners shipped more than 12 million cases to U.S. markets in 2018. The sparkling wine category holds a 7 percent share of the U.S. wine market.

The traditional winegrape varieties used in California sparkling wine production include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, although many other varieties are also used.

Several U.S. producers label their sparkling wines as “champagne.” The U.S. government allows the use of the term on U.S. brands established on or before March 2006, as long as the geographic origin accompanies the champagne term on the label. U.S. brands created after this date are not allowed to use the term.

The two most common production methods for sparkling wine include méthode champenoise and the Charmat process. For méthode champenoise, a blend of still base wine, yeast nutrient and a sugar source are combined. The mixture is fermented a second time in the bottle, which captures the carbon dioxide released during the fermentation process and produces the wine’s signature bubbles. For the Charmat process, still wines are fermented in a pressurized tank. Sugar and yeast are added for a second fermentation, but the wine remains in the tank for this stage of the process and is not fermented in individual bottles.

Sparkling wine ranges in style from very dry (Natural), dry (Brut), and slightly sweet (Extra Dry) to sweet (Sec and Demi-Sec). Wines with no noticeable sweetness are described as “dry.” Many sparkling wines are also identified as “Blanc de Blancs” (wines made from Chardonnay grapes), “Blanc de Noirs” (wines produced from black grapes), or rosé sparkling wines (small amount of red wine added to the blend or wine that is allowed brief skin contact with color-laden grape skins).

Top 10 U.S. Metro Markets for Sparkling Wine/Champagne in 2018
U.S. Metro Markets Thousands of 9-Liter Cases
New York-Newark-Edison 2,598
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet 2,230
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 1,962
San Francisco-Oakland, Fremont 831
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy 674
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Miami Beach 672
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 616
Detroit-Warren-Livonia 499
Washington, DC-Arlington-Alexandria 494
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos 480
Source: 2019 The Beverage Information Group