Luckily for wine drinkers everywhere, California Wine Month falls just as the autumn season approaches. This means pumpkin spice flavored everything, watching the leaves change color, and of course, pulling out those full-bodied California wines to savor as the air begins to shift from warm summer breezes to more crisp, autumnal-scented gusts.
Rich, decadent, and full-flavored white wines pair marvelously with seasonal fish and delectable, creamy dishes such as chicken piccata. Candied-ginger and baking-spice-kissed Chardonnays are ideal for just about any autumn occasion from cocktail hour through to dessert. But don’t forget to pull out those powerhouse reds to pair with the heartier dishes and stews that make fall such a fun time to be in the kitchen.
Savor autumn and the upcoming winter months with these 10 favorite California reds and whites, but be sure to pop them all through September, which is California Wine Month.
2017 TWO SISTERS RESERVE CHARDONNAY
Sta. Rita Hills
This elegant California Chardonnay has a rich and decadent profile reminiscent of pineapple upside-down cake with notes of creamy custard and tart lemon bars. The finish is smooth and lingers long on the palate until you’re ready for another sip.
2016 FOLEY ESTATES JA RANCH PINOT NOIR
Sta. Rita Hills
You can’t celebrate the arrival of fall without popping open a bottle of single-vineyard Pinot Noir. The Foley Estates JA Ranch displays layers of lush, juicy raspberries and blackberries on the palate with hints of wild herbs and toasted graham cracker crust. This is one of our favorites and deserves a place on your Thanksgiving table.
2016 FOLEY SONOMA ESTATE MERLOT
Merlot is a perfect wine for the fall. Not only does Merlot Month land smack in the middle of autumn (October), but it has amazing flavors and fragrances that make it a wonderful match to many of our favorite comfort foods such as spaghetti and meatballs and jambalaya! This estate Merlot exudes bright fruit flavors with touches of ripe berries and hints of tobacco and mocha on the finish.
2017 LANCASTER ESTATE SOPHIA’S HILLSIDE CUVÉE
We’re enjoying many red blends this fall from Lancaster Estate, which is situated just outside of Healdsburg. This Sophia’s Hillside Cuvée is a rich blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, and 2% Merlot, and exhibits delicious flavors of cherry, red currant, and vanilla that mingle together with hints of ripe strawberry, raspberry, and decadent dark chocolate. Pair this wine with a juicy burger for warmer autumn days and heartier meals like meatloaf and mashed potatoes for the cooler autumn nights.
2016 CHALONE VINEYARD ESTATE PINOT BLANC
The grapes for this zippy white hail from our historic Chalone Estate situated on prime benchland in the Gavilan Hills in the shadow of the Pinnacles National Park. Here, well above the fog line, the grapes at Chalone are treated to ample sunshine, which delivers ripe nectarine and orange zest notes supported by a long mineral finish—making for a wine that’s easy to drink on its own, or throughout a meal.
2014 FOLEY JOHNSON ESTATE PETIT VERDOT
Rutherford, Napa Valley
This hearty variety with its herbal notes matches beautifully with lamb recipes, beef short ribs, and well-aged cheeses. The palate is layered and smooth with flavors of red fruits, clove, anise, and hints of toasted oak. This wine is structured and elegant, accented by velvety tannins that linger on the finish.
2016 FIRESTONE VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC
Santa Ynez Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon is popular in California, but how often do you think to reach for its parent variety, Cabernet Franc? Indulge in the Firestone Cabernet Franc and savor its aromas of spiced plum, tobacco, and baking spices. The perfect balance of red fruit flavors, toasty oak, and bright acidity make this Cabernet Franc an enticing wine from start to finish.
2016 ROTH CHARDONNAY
The 2016 Carneros Chardonnay is rich and multi-layered with aromas of Williams pears, yellow apples, brioche, toasted hazelnut, and hints of baking spices followed by a touch of zesty citrus. This wine begs to be paired with something warm and comforting such as ultimate grilled cheese.
2016 KULETO THE POINT CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Here’s the plan. Pop the cork on a bottle (or two) of “The Point” and serve it alongside rosemary garlic lamb chops topped with olive tapenade. Truthfully, lamb and Cabernet Sauvignon is a match made in wine heaven; however, the rosemary adds a component that makes the dish that much more delicious with lamb. We think you’ll get the point. This blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah, and 4% Alicante Bouschet gives off beautiful flavors of sunbaked blackberries, toasty oak, and sweet vanilla extract.
2015 CHALK HILL CHAIRMAN’S MALBEC
Chalk Hill AVA
This royally unique blend combines 93% Malbec and 7% Merlot from Chalk Hill’s 56-acre Estate West vineyard and delivers a hedonistic wine with pronounced aromas of black cherry, roasted espresso, dried herbs, and cracked black pepper. Ready to drink now or age it for five to seven years, this is a wine you’ll certainly want to put on your autumn wine list ASAP.