The LCBO has a big Californian promotion this month, so let’s take a look at what the golden state has to offer.

The Californian wine industry could be likened to its movie industry. Most of what’s produced is fluff. Sweetish drinks designed to appeal to people who want their wine to taste like fruit juice.

Gallo is the leader here but even respected names such as Beringer and Francis Ford Coppola dish out candy cute wines.

That said, California must be credited with changing the wine industry for the better. Its winemakers developed a way of making dry-style wines that were a lot more friendly than the traditional European offerings. They brought a lot of fun to wine. When Californian wine is good it has great drinkability, generous flavours, and a bright personality. They try hard to please while still feeling genuine.

I also like the general lighthearted feeling in their wines — they say chill out, life is good.

Their great drinkability means the wines work equally well for party times or for supper. And the recent drop in prices is a nice added bonus.

Dog House has the look of a cute brand, but it’s not. This is a damn good wine with enough personality to keep you entertained down to the last drop. Medium bodied and versatile — think house red.

There’s also a Dog House Pinot Gris that’s refreshing and worth exploring. Dog House is a brand by the Kendall-Jackson Winery, which is a master at hitting the middle ground between nice and interesting.

Fetzer is a world leader in sustainable grape growing and all things “green,” and its wines certainly carry a suggestion of coming from a happy home. The Sauvignon Blanc is a gentle edition of this grape that’s fun to gulp on a hot day. Just follow the instruction on the back label — “wine to start the end of your day.”

Billy Munnelly has been writing about wine for 25 years and is the author of Canada's largest selling wine book, Billy's Best Bottles. Sign up for his free monthly e-letter at

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