Q: Where is the San Joaquin Valley?
A: The San Joaquin Valley is the Southern 55% of California’s Great Central Valley, with the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Sacramento Valley making up the other 45%. Geopolitically speaking, the Valley is everything between the California Coast Range Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains south of State Route 4 until the Valley closes at the Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles.
Q: What is so special about the San Joaquin Valley?
A: The San Joaquin Valley s famous the world over for being, quite possibly, as close to the Garden of Eden as can be found on Earth. The San Joaquin Valley produces almost every crop in California and the vast preponderance of what California boasts as 25% of the agricultural output of the United States. The soils, from north to south are consistently fertile and without inauspicious zones on a scale found nowhere else on the planet. Because it is a Valley protected on three sides, the weather is extremely predicable with most precipitation occurring during the cool winter months long after the completion of most harvests.
Q: What winegrapes varieties are grown in the San Joaquin Valley?
A: All of the European-type Vitis vinifera grow in the San Joaquin Valley’s Mediterranean Climate.
Q: But I thought it had to be cool to grow quality grapes?
A: That’s a common misconception. In fact, Vitis vinifera is native to areas even warmer and more arid than the Valley. The Valley, perhaps, because of its developed irrigation system is the perfect place for growing any type of grape for whatever purpose. In fact, the San Joaquin Valley is the only part of California that can fully mature a crop year after year without much variation – eliminating the need for vintage handicaps of quality because every year is a “vintage year”. Our warm climate viticulture is one of the strengths of our Valley. In fact, given the experience we have with irrigation, cover cropping, and canopy management, we are even able to cool vineyards down when necessary while still maintaining the necessary climate to mature our fruit.
Q: But it does have to be cool for fermentation, right?
A: Yes, that is why over the last sixty years our industry has put forth so much effort to harness refrigerated climate control to produce optimum quality wines from our naturally mature grapes.
Q: Where can I find San Joaquin Valley wines?
A: Wherever you usually buy your wines. While a bottle will not say San Joaquin Valley specifically, you can be sure that if it says “California”, there is a very good (over 70% chance) that the wine comes from our Valley.
Q: Aren’t most Valley farming operations conducted by “Corporate Farms”?
A: In a word, NO! Very few winegrapes are grown by the traditional “corporate farm”. The overwhelming majority of winegrapes in the Valley are carefully tended by individual family farming operations – many with multiple generations of expertise.