A website has been launched by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) as an information source on wine grape growing in the state.

The site, www.California-Vineyards.com, launched yesterday (23 September), provides information on the role of grapes in fine wine production and also points out California's wine grape growers involvement with the Sustainable Winegrowing Program.

"We want wine consumers to understand the role California's wine grape growers play in creating fine wine as well as preserving the state's precious natural resources," said CAWG chairman John Crossland. "We know that consumers are getting more and more of their information online, and the website gives us the opportunity to tell our story directly, to pull back the curtain and let wine enthusiasts learn how wine grape growers help bring the wines they love to the table."

The website uses graphics, videos, an interactive California wine region map and an "Ask the Expert" section where consumers can ask wine-related questions.

The CAWG represents the growers of around 50% of the gross grape tonnage crushed for wine and concentrate in California.

Earlier this year California winemakers lobbied against a proposed six-fold increase in wine tax, set down by state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Under the plan, excise tax on wine in California would rise by 640%, or from US$0.20 per gallon to $1.40 per gallon.