Nearly every year, Melissa Ruzylo of Huntington Beach, California, makes some time to visit the beautiful wine country in the northern part of the state. Most historians believe that the first vineyards were planted in this area in 1683 by a Jesuit missionary named Eusebio Francisco Kino. The ultimate fate of these vineyards is not known because Kino’s mission was abandoned shortly after the planting.
Almost 100 years later, another attempt was made to establish vineyards in the Northern California area. Located at Mission San Diego, these vineyards were planted by members of the Franciscan order and flourished in the mild and sunny climate. The Mission grapes produced by these vineyards provided the first real commercial success for California wine production.
Later winemaking entrepreneurs brought cuttings from Europe to create a new era of success for California wines. The founder of Buena Vista Winery in the Sonoma, Agoston Haraszthy was one of the most important forces for progress during the mid-1800s and directly imported at least 165 cuttings from premier European wineries to establish a foothold in the expanding California wine industry.
Today, California wine is a $22 billion industry and continues to grow steadily. Moscato and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties are among the fastest growing segments of wines produced on the more than 500,000 acre of vineyards devoted to wine grapes in California. Over 207 million cases of California wine were sold last year alone, ensuring the success of this industry for wine aficionados like Melissa Ruzylo of Huntington Beach.