California white wine is almost synonymous with Chardonnay. It’s the state’s most widely planted grape variety of all, with nearly 37,800ha in 2017. And anyone who thinks it’s going out of fashion should think again. Chardonnay has been California’s leading grape for the past decade with sales increases every year, according to the California Wine Institute.

It was not always so. Although plantings of the grape date back to the late 19th century, its use was somewhat limited for a long time, mainly due to the perception that Chardonnay gave low yields. During Prohibition, 1920-1933, many Chardonnay vineyards were replaced with varieties that had thicker skins, such as Zinfandel, which were seen as hardier.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that Chardonnay’s popularity started to rise significantly . Today, Monterey AVA has the most plantings, at about 6,880ha, many vast vineyards there filling the valley floor. Sonoma is second with 6,313ha, and the

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