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Wine Spectator School

Class 7: New World Model: California

The region directly north of Sonoma County is Mendocino. It is part of the North Coast American Viticultural Area consisting of Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties.



Mendocino County's tradition of grape growing goes back to the 1850s and the first Spanish land grants in the county. In the 1870s, Italian immigrants began planting vineyards and making wine, mostly for home consumption. Amazingly, some of these vineyards still exist.

Before Prohibition, nearly 20 wineries were in operation, with much of their wine consumed locally or purchased by retailers from nearby San Francisco. Some grapegrowers survived Prohibition by shipping wine grapes across the United States for home winemakers.

The 1970s saw a rapid increase in the number...

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