by Jerry James Stone

Here in California, a "table wine" has an alcohol content below 13-percent. But those wines are becoming rare. Sorry, light-weights.

One reason is that the higher-alcohol wines take less time to go from the vineyard to the table; lower-alcohol bottles sit in the cellar much longer. Secondly, wine drinkers want bolder wines with a lot more kick.

In fact, so much so that sales for these high-octane wines have tripled in the past decade.

California growers used to mimic the conditions of places like Bordeaux, where the short season isn't enough time to generate high sugar levels. But they discovered California's late rains allow for a longer 'hang time.' And that extra time sends sugar levels skyrocketing while keeping the acids at bay.

All that leads to a bold, fruity vino.