1976 was a yr of nice significance round the globe. In the United Kingdom, it was the yr the first business Concorde flight took off, reducing air journey instances in half. In Canada, it marked the completion of the CN Tower. And in Paris, wine judges gathered and critiqued wines from the prime vintners in France towards wines made in California. The surprising outcomes led to the explosion of wine in California and altered the trade’s trajectory for many years to return.
This yr marks 45 years since the Judgment of Paris. What was primarily a staged blind tasting meant to fire up curiosity in American wines in Europe ended up shocking trade leaders and wine drinkers round the globe. A 1973 Chardonnay from Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena gained prime factors towards a white Burgundy, a Meursault-Charmes from Domaine Roulot, inspiring a wave of curiosity in California Chardonnay. In keeping with knowledge from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the quantity of Chardonnay grown and crushed in the first 5 years following the tasting grew by greater than 400 %.
The profitable Cabernet Sauvignon got here from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. It beat out iconic Bordeaux estates like Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Haut-Brion. Cabernet Sauvignon, which already had a fairly secure maintain in the California wine-growing trade and accounted for 36 % of crimson wine in the area, noticed a close to doubling in development in the 5 years following the tasting.
In an act of defiance towards Isaac Newton’s well-known line, “what goes up, should come down,” Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have continued their development for many years. At the moment, they’re the flagship varieties of the Napa Valley AVA. In 2019, the complete quantity of white wine grapes for crushing was 176 % of the complete seen in 1976. Included in that was a rise of Chardonnay by greater than 1,000 %. For crimson wine, the complete quantity of grapes grown for crushing totaled 449 % greater than in 1976. Included in that quantity was a rise of 932 % particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon.
By means of the years, the knowledge exhibits inevitable dips in manufacturing as growers and producers confronted difficult vintages, together with ones which were impacted by disastrous wildfires. In spite of this, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon present no signal, or cause, for releasing their maintain as the prime white and crimson grapes, respectively, in the Napa Valley.
To study extra about the affect of the Judgement of Paris on the Napa Valley, take a look at the charts under.