"One of the things that Champagne did wrong when they started putting out their marketing," says Jenna Congdon, the manager of The Station wine bar in San Luis Obispo, "is that they really put it out there as a special occasion wine."
That marketing message has worked better than those 19th century French producers could ever have imagined.
More than a century later we still think of sparkling wine as reserved for special occasions like weddings, but especially for Christmas and New Year's when the lion's share is sold. Today's producers would like to shift that perception and remind us that sparkling wine is as seriously good as wine and appropriate for any time of the year.
Champagne is still the measuring stick for great sparkling wine but Americans are bringing the same ingenuity to bubbles that they brought to varietals which elevated California wine to world class levels.
"There's all these cool local guys doing really good quality sparkling wine, things that you wouldn't think of," comments Ali Carscaden, the owner and manager of the 15C Wine Shop and Bar in Templeton. "Nobody else in the world makes a sparkling wine from Grenache Blanc," she adds, referring to Clavo Cellars' Corazon.
In this edition of Central Coast AVA, a chat about sparkling wine, Champagne and a list of where to find the bubbly made by wineries from Salinas to Santa Barbara. Some of these makers employ strict traditional French techniques and others use novel materials like bottle caps.
There are a wider variety of grapes used in sparkling wine production in California compared to France. Many producers on the central coast are looking forward to an exciting era of sparkling wine development.
This list contains all the producers we could find. Let us know if there's a winery we left out. Some wineries might be sold out and others might be holding their sparklers for club members. As of today all these links work but, of course, in such a list over time some are bound to be rendered ioperable by the website owners.
Paso Robles East Side
Paso Robles West Side
Paso Robles In Town
Claiborne & Churchill - call for info
Santa Rita Hills