The wine world is full of classifications. They may be hierarchical rankings of vineyards, or ratings of historic performance in the secondary market, but these classifications can help shape how consumers and the wine trade engage with a region.
When it comes to California, we wanted to create a list of our own. A list that did not focus on individual wines, but on the Producers that have been the most important in creating and driving the California wine category in the UK. A list of exceptional California Producers renowned for their quality and overall impact in the UK.
We could not create this list without a team of Judges with a profound depth of experience of California wine. This was not a wine competition, indeed there was no formal tasting as part of the judging process, but an exercise in bringing together a group of experts with diverse perspectives and opinions. The California List is intended to be a snapshot of California wine in the UK market at a single moment in time, so the inaugural List, this Edition 1, reflects the current state of play.
In the years to come, we will undertake this process again to discover new producers who the Judges believe are now worthy of a place on the List, and perhaps even some who no longer hold their spot.
Our thanks goes to the wonderful panel of Judges we assembled for Edition 1. Their enthusiasm and ‘polite discourse’ on the final make up of Producers was a great thrill for us to be a part of.
We hope you enjoy exploring Edition 1 of The California List and that it extends your knowledge and enjoyment of California Wines.
DAMIEN JACKMAN and JUSTINE MCGOVERN
UK Trade Directors California Wine Institute
Jancis Robinson MW, wine writer and founder of Jancis Robinson Purple Pages website.
Stephen Brook, wine writer, Californian wine specialist and author of over 40 books on wine.
Sarah Knowles MW, wine buyer at The Wine Society.
Mark Andrew MW, co-founder of Noble Rot restaurants and Magazine.
Ronan Sayburn MS, head of wine at 67 Pall Mall and Chief Executive of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe.
The Judges were asked to evaluate over 150 producers on three key criteria: Quality, Availability, and Impact.
• Quality (out of 15 points) was the most important factor and had the greatest weighting in the scoring process. The Judges focused on how well a Producer’s wines and price points compare to their Californian and world peers.
• Availability (out of 5 points) spoke to how widely accessible the Producer’s wines were in the UK on and off-trades, and how long their wines have been in the market.
• Impact (out of 5 points) allowed for more of the subjective thoughts of the Judges to come into play by reflecting how important a particular Producer has been in building the overall California wine category.
The final version of The California List was decided after all scores were totalled and a robust zoom discussion by the Judges narrowed the contenders down to the final group that have made Edition 1 of The California List.
Quality of the Producer’s wines at their price points when lined up against their Californian peers. Guiding Points, Out of 15 points
• Grading the overall quality of the Producer, not just their best wine
• 9 pts would be a Producer of good quality wines
• 11 pts would be a Producer making wines that stand shoulder to shoulder with its global peers
• 13+ pts would be a Producer of outstanding wines across the board
Has good distribution throughout on and off trade in the UK. Is the Producer well known and accessible to UK consumers? Guiding Points, Out of 5 points
• Producers of cult wines that may be of outstanding quality but are not readily accessible to UK consumers would fail to score highly in this category
• A brand that has been widely available in the on and off trade across the UK for more than 10 years would score very highly in this category
How important has this Producer been for building the category of California wine in the UK? Did it make you take notice of California wine? Does the Producer contribute to the story of its region and California winemaking? Guiding Points, Out of 5 points
• Did a Producer make an impact on your personal wine journey throughout your career, and make you take note of California wine.
If you are a wine retailer, restaurant, or you work in the wine trade and would like one of the limited copies of Edition 1 of The California List poster and accompanying booklet please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org