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The Judgment of Paris and its Impact on the History of California Wine

The Judgment of Paris had a significant impact on the world of wine. In 1976, a blind-tasting competition known as the Judgment of Paris took place in France, where California wines outperformed French wines, shocking the wine industry and forever changing the way the world perceived American wine. 

In this blog post, Caves Wine Shop shares how the Judgement of Paris forever changed the world’s perception of American wine - especially wine from Napa Valley, CA.

What Was the Judgment of Paris? 

The Judgement of Paris was a blind wine tasting conducted in May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant in Paris, France. Ten French judges were asked to rate wines from California and France. The French judges were known experts in the wine industry and were expected to declare French wines as the clear winners. However, the results were shocking: California wines outscored French wines in both categories, with a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon from California taking first place.

The impact of the Judgment of Paris was tremendous. It brought worldwide attention to California wines, previously considered inferior to their European counterparts. The competition paved the way for the modern wine industry in America and challenged the long-held belief that only European wines were of high quality. The Judgment of Paris also opened up new markets for American wines, which have become increasingly popular over the years.


The Original Tasting, 1976: A New Era of California Wine

The 1976 Judgment of Paris made Napa Valley, CA a world-class wine region on the map. It also showed the world that fine wine can be made in America and doesn’t just need to come from French soil. For decades, winemakers held that mindset, and this tasting proved them all wrong.

The Legacy of the Judgment of Paris for California Wine


The Judgment of Paris marked a turning point in the wine industry and has had a significant impact on the world of wine. The competition challenged the notion that only French wines were of high quality and paved the way for a new generation of winemakers around the world.

In addition, the Judgment of Paris inspired other wine competitions, including the Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine and Spirit Competition. These competitions have become important events in the wine industry and provide a platform for new and established winemakers to showcase their wines.

California’s victory also inspired other winemakers in different parts of the world to produce wine, including winemakers in South Africa, Italy, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. What an exciting time for wine!

Today, American wines are widely recognized as some of the best in the world, and the legacy of the Judgment of Paris continues to inspire new generations of winemakers.


Which Wines Won the Judgment of Paris?

In the white wine category, the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Napa Valley, California, won the top prize. In the red wine category, the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California, won first place beating the best French wines from Bordeaux.

Both of these wines were from California and were judged superior to some of the most famous and expensive French wines of the time.


Learn more about the history of wine by joining our wine club. We feature new wine each month along with a wine guide to teach you all about your wine, the winemaker, and more.