For a long time the Southern California wine scene was overlooked. Temecula was one of the first areas to get a little bit of attention but got hit by the sharp shooter in the late ’90s. Even though it was a bad thing, it really helped the wineries come into their own and helped other lesser known areas embark onto the scene.
Because most of Temecula vines were diseased at that time the winery owners had to come up with a new strategy for the region. Prior to the disease, they had planted grape vines based on market demands. The tragedy made most of the growers realize it would be better to plant varieties that were better equipped to handle the elements of the area. In other words, they just needed to be themselves. Other wine regions followed suit and now there is an explosion of wineries opening all over Southern California.
Over the years, here’s what I have observed are unique traits at Southern California wineries.
1. Girls Just Want To Have Fun
It’s true you’ll find lots of bachelorette and birthday parties with groups of women dressed in brightly colored sun dresses at many bigger Southern California wineries, but there are just as many smaller wineries that don’t get the big crowds or the loud parties. The wineries are as diverse as the multi-cultural landscape. Don’t get frustrated when you run into these ladies. Ask if you can take a picture with them and join their fun. They might want you to post the picture on Facebook and then you’ll make a bunch of new friends.
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2. There Really Is Good Wine Being Made
I can’t count how many times people have joked with me about the wine in Southern California not being any good. It’s hard not to take the comments to be a personal offense as most of the time they know I’ve written about the area. Sometimes I defend the wineries, but other times I just let the naysayer’s voices roll right off me. Yeah, there’s some wine produced in So Cal that’s not any good, but you can say that about any wine region. That’s really why the whole wine tasting idea got started in the first place. The wineries were being generous and letting you sample the product before you bought it to make sure you liked it. It wasn’t until people started taking advantage of their generosity, sampling but not buying, that they decided to start charging a tasting fee. Most likely the naysayers were also the cheapskates. Bah humbug, mean critics go Debbie Downer somewhere else. It’s always sunny here so we like to be optimistic.
3. We Know More About Wine Then You Think
Just because Southern California has a reputation for spurning out blonde bimbos and surfers, doesn’t mean most of the population isn’t educated. According to infoplease.com, California has the most universities of all the states in the union (399) and eight of the top 14 Universities in California, according to topuniversities.com, are located in Southern California. That makes for a lot of brain power that is most likely being put to use when people are evaluating wine qualities at wineries. We can be smart and fun too so don’t judge us.
4. A Diverse Scene
Because the population of California is so diverse, there are just as many unique wineries to match a person’s preferences. Want to bring your dog to a winery? You’ll find some welcoming your friend. You just like the Syrah varietal? There are wineries that focus on that variety. If you like to pretend you’re part of the royal line, you can find wineries that look like castles. Or if you don’t like to make it out to a rural setting there are some in town. Whatever the preferences are, it seems Southern California wineries are more willing to give it a try. Maybe, like Avis, So Cal wineries try harder.
5. An Underdog
The Urban Dictionary describes an underdog as one that is at a disadvantage. Southern California wineries, although there has been a lot of progress, are still mostly overlooked by serious wine professionals. It seems to make perfect sense then that Southern California wineries are underdogs–and just maybe like to be that way. According to a Dallas news article by David Tarrant who interviewed Malcolm Gladwell who wrote David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, Gladwell told Tarrant that a lesson in underdog stories is that “being an underdog can force people or organizations to try new techniques and out-of-the-box strategies to overcome obstacles, whether it’s a disability, lack of money or other potential impediments. His book is full of stories illustrating this theme.”