In this episode of the History of Wine Podcast, Matthew Kaner chats to Elaine Chukan Brown, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews & American Wine Reviewer for JancisRobinson.com. Together, they discuss the history of wine in California and how the Gold Rush influenced it.
Named 2020 Wine Communicator of the Year by IWSC and VinItaly, Chukan Brown writes, speaks, and educates about wine, personal empowerment, and social justice. In addition to JancisRobinson.com, she writes regularly for Wine & Spirits Magazine. She also writes for Club Oenologique, Decanter, World of Fine Wine and the Robb Report. Her contributions are also found in the 8th edition of the World Atlas of Wine and the award-winning 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine.
The history of wine in California begins in the 18th century. Spanish missionaries first introduced vitas vinifera grapes to each of the missions they established. The cuttings came from Mexico and were a descendent of the ‘common black grape’. It became known as the Mission grape and was the dominant grape variety in California until the 20th century. It wasn’t until the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century that California saw massive growth. New settlers increased the population and, in turn, the demand for wine.