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Murray: Bet you never knew this about your wine
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Here's an unsurprising fact: California is the leading wine-producing state in the nation. What is surprising, however, is that 90 percent of American wine comes from the Golden State.

In fact, if California were a nation, it would be the fourth leading wine-producing country in the world, behind France, Italy and Spain. And Californians drink more wine than residents of any other state.

These and other interesting factoids came to me recently courtesy of The Wine Institute, the trade organization that lobbies for California wines. Let me share others with you. There just may be the answer to a question that has kept you up at night for months. No need to thank me.

  • Wine is fat free and contains no cholesterol. A 4-ounce glass of table wine has about 80 to 100 calories. Table wine is the kind you serve with a meal, not a sweet dessert wine.
  • It takes about six to eight clusters, or approximately 600 to 800 wine grapes weighing 2.4 pounds to make a bottle of wine. One barrel of wine contains 740 pounds of grapes, equivalent to 59 gallons, or 24.6 cases of wine.
  • It is theorized that there are approximately 44 million bubbles in a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne. (When they need somebody to do the actual count, I do hope to be called. I'm available ... and I love sparkling wine.)
  • In recent years, the red wine category edged out white wine by volume in food stores, beginning in 2004. At that point, red held a 40.5 percent market share; white, a 40.4 percent share, and blush wine (think White Zinfandel), 19.1 percent of the case volume, according to ACNielsen.
  • California wines have benefited from the unique and varied mix of cultures that found new homes in the Golden State. They ranged from Spanish missionaries who established the state's first vineyards and wineries beginning in 1769, to the German, Italian and other European immigrants who founded California's pioneer wineries, to the farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs who helped create the modern California wine industry.

Local wine happenings

Three Sisters Vineyards is holding a Mother's Day Wine Weekend from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Doug and Sharon Paul, owners of this family winery north of Dahlonega, will serve up complimentary tastings as well as a special Mother's Day Vintner's Tasting for $12, which includes a keepsake wine glass. Every mother visiting Three Sisters will receive a gift.

Three Sisters also will celebrate the eighth annual Georgia Wine Country Festival, June 6 and 7.

Taste Georgia wines from Boutier Winery, The Georgia Winery, Three Sisters, Chestatee, Walasiyi and more.

Tickets at the gate are $20, including keepsake wine glass; tickets for designated drivers are $10, and children 12 and younger are free.

Enjoy live music, vendors offering a variety of goods, folk artists and special guest John "Cornbread" Anderson. Chefs Kelly Finucan and Dairen Roberts will prepare food for sale inside the festival. Silent and live auctions will benefit the Southeastern Bluegrass Association.

For more information on these events and others, call 706-865-9463.

Things are happening, too, at Wolf Mountain Vineyards, north of Dahlonega. The winery's fifth annual White Wine, Sparkling Wine and Seafood Festival will take place Sundays throughout the month, starting May 17. Make advance reservations to enjoy a sampling of fresh seafood paired with Wolf Mountain's uniquely blended white wines.

And there's a Mother's Day celebration Sunday featuring a special brunch for the whole family.

Wolf Mountain has just opened its new winery tasting room. The foyer to the winery level has been enclosed in glass, offering an additional 1,200 square feet of space with impressive vineyard and mountain views. The center of this space now focuses on a large, four-sided stone and cedar bar that can accommodate as many as 50 tasters.

For more information about events, hours or directions, call 706-867-9862.

Tiger Mountain Vineyards, three miles south of Clayton in Rabun County, will show selected local art pieces - pottery and paintings - as part of the Northeast Georgia Arts Tour, June 19-21. Several artists will demonstrate their work June 20.

Guests may enjoy vineyard strolls and sample Tiger Mountain's locally grown, award-winning wines, artisan cheeses and breads. Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Friday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. For directions and details, call 706-782-4777.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. His column runs on the first Wednesday of the month.

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