March 10, 2023 by Arden Montgomery

Spotlight on NorCal Wine

The California most non-Calfornians have in their minds is either Hollywood, sprawling palm-lined white sand beaches, and rolling desert valleys studded with cacti and other parched-looking vegetation. And no mistake, this is a lot of California and an important aspect of the Golden State’s often dualistic identity. But go a little further north and you will experience a very different aspect of this giant of the West Coast – Arecaceae give way to redwoods, pines, and junipers, white sand becomes studded with pebbles and red rock spilling from the sea cliffs, and the perpetual sunshine of further south is punctuated by extraordinary downpours, sea fog, and the occasional blanket of snow. 

And this is the side of California credited with the cultivation and fermentation of some of the best and most iconic wines in the world. Anchoring the standard of viticultural production on Turtle Island, regions like Sonoma, Napa Valley, and the often-obscure Mendocino coastline have delivered some of our very favorite bottles in the collection – so now we’re taking a moment to honor them. Let’s dive in.

A (very) brief history of the California wine scene

California’s viticultural history follows a religious storyline which served to found a positively devout modern oenophilic lifestyle.

The west coast vineyards sank their roots in first at the encouragement of Spanish colonizers who encouraged Franciscan Missionarios to plant grapes to feed the demand for Catholic communion wine. An environment and soil makeup ideal for grape-growing facilitated the easy spread of these original farms across the state, cultivating an active culture of winemaking for many hundreds of years. 

Fast forward to the prohibition era and the region’s winemakers face some serious trouble – however some historic growers including the Martinez brothers were able to keep up production by continuing to legally produce sacramental wines for religious consumption. 

Following the repeal of prohibition legislation in the early 1930s, California’s numerous vineyards exploded, and especially Napa Valley and the surrounding regions bloomed to build the contemporary icon of the wine world.

And breathe.

Five fabulous Northern California wines from the Argaux collection

  • 2020 Origin Pinot Noir – $45 Nestled in the foothills just miles from the ocean, this single vineyard is a pure expression of Pinot Noir grown quietly under the spell of the Pacific Ocean on an old, hidden estate.
  • 2020 Origin Bates Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon – $75 This wine is a knock your socks off, savor every last drop kind of bottle. Just north of Big Sur, this old vine Cabernet is grown on the mountain peak which gives it intensity of flavor and rich minerality.
  • 2020 Wonderland Project No. 9 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
    From the heart of Napa Valley comes this Cab Sauv whose grapes were grown in a blessed location high in the hills where the young uvae can escape the coastal fog and ripen slowly. The result is a deep and velvety wine that is bodacious but silky-smooth, gracing the menu of restaurants like The French Laundry. Sweet, savory, with fruits, herbs, and chocolate, this is the one to bring to your cold-weather BBQ. Pair with burgers and your favorite North Face vest.

Other offerings from Argaux

Not sure where to start when it comes to wine? You’re not alone.

Our team of sommeliers has put together a Wine 101 “starter kit” to make it easy for you.

Step 1: Purchase our Wine 101 Tasting Kit For Beginners by adding it to your cart below and proceeding to check out
Step 2: Receive your bundle of 4 wines including 2 bottles of white, 2 bottles of red, and a booklet explaining the 4 common grapes varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon delivered to your doorstep.
Step 3: Taste through the lineup for a fun and easy to understand experience to begin your wine journey with us!


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