Although many varieties of the grapes used to make wine date back to 4,500 B.C., modern cabernet grapes have origins dating back nearly 400 years. A new variation of sequencing technology allowed a genomics expert from UC Davis to unravel the genome sequence of the traditional cabernet sauvignon. This technology will allow vineyard owners to create more disease-resistant grapes, allowing them to withstand the impact of climate change. Taking a step back, the grapes used to make cabernet sauvignon are fascinating, and any wine connoisseur would do well to remain educated.
The Origins of California Cabernet Sauvignon
In the 1600s, the Western part of the United States was largely unsettled. Spanish colonists were actually the first to lay claim to the area, and they established numerous towns and missions in the area. These grapes were then sent to Europe where they became quite the hit. The first vineyard to maintain steady production was located in San Diego and overseen by Franciscan priests.
Father Junipero Serra was primarily responsible for overseeing production, and his commitment is why he is now referred to as the Father of California Wines. He would only plant a small sampling of grapes because they were incredibly expensive to export all the way to Europe.
Further American Involvement
As settlers slowly started to colonize North America, they finally reached California. It was here they realized the region was perfect for viniculture. Jean Louis Vignes from France established a new vineyard located in what is now known as Los Angeles. Production remained consistent over the centuries until 1948 when the gold rush boomed.
The increase of settlers to the region, all of whom wished to strike gold, led to an increase in production of wine. The area of California was highly prosperous, due in part to the fact it remained largely unaffected by the Civil War. Agoston Haraszthy helped create new breeds of vines, and he spread his knowledge of winemaking in a paper called “Report on Grapes and Wine of California.” This paper was published by the California State Agricultural Society, and it soon rose to prominence around the country. By the early 1900s, California produced millions of cases of wine annually.
In 1919, the federal government of the United States criminalized the production and consumption of all alcohol, including beer, hard liquor and wine. The price of the grapes dropped substantially. Despite the best efforts of the government, wine production remained prevalent. In fact, wine consumption throughout the country actually doubled over the course of Prohibition.
One unfortunate aspect during this time was the fact the wine was subpar quality. Since wine production had to remain a secret in general, makers typically had to use inferior methods to create it. This is similar to the “bathtub gin” that flowed freely during the 1920s. Prohibition finally came to an end in 1933, but at that point, the damage was done. Around 700 wineries existed before Prohibition, but when it ended, only about half remained in business.
Characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon
Many newcomers wonder if a cabernet sauvignon from Jordan Winery is right for them. It helps to understand what flavors a cabernet sauvignon comes with and what foods it pairs best with. A cabernet sauvignon can vary substantially with some varieties having a fruitier quality while others have characteristics more akin to licorice and black pepper. California wine is considered a New World variety, meaning it is often a fruitier blend. They typically have less acidity and tannins, but they generally come with a higher alcohol concentration.
Since a cabernet sauvignon is delightfully complex, it can be hard to pair. However, the best foods to consume with such a wine are those that are high in fat. Umami flavors work exceptionally well, too. Therefore, an umami burger consisting of mushroom sauce and gruyere cheese would be the perfect thing to eat with a glass of cabernet sauvignon on the side. You can also try having it with a marinated ribeye steak or a mushroom pizza.
There are many fantastic qualities to cabernet sauvignon. It is no wonder why many wine enthusiasts reach for a glass whenever they go wine tasting. Even if you are a novice, you will certainly appreciate the rich history and complexity of this wine.