What had gone awry? And where was California's next hope? If you were to consider the state's winemaking history—even just the flicker-reel version of it—the trajectory makes sense. Since the 1770s, when Spanish missionaries in need of sacramental wine planted California's first grapes, vineyards have thrived here. The fog, warm days and cool nights, and diversity of interesting soils and sites (from loamy valley floors to limestone ridgetops) offer incomparable potential for great wine. In the boom years right after the Gold Rush, the state's wine production nearly tripled; the wine was frequently rustic and blended from an assortment of grape varieties. But as the nascent industry swelled with new arrivals, some of whom were from Bordeaux and other European wine-growing regions, the interest in making fine blended and single-variety wines grew. In 1938, winery owner Georges de Latour, whose Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa's Rutherford had weathered Prohibition making wines for the church, brought in the French-trained winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff. The Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon that Tchelistcheff made defined the Valley's signature style: aged in American oak and elegant, and with a Californian lushness, it became the gold standard for the next few decades. The 1960s and '70s saw a new wave of winemakers establishing vineyards in carefully chosen spots in Napa and in neighboring Sonoma County, where they could make wines with a fertile Californian opulence, but with an eye toward European-style refinement. The wines were so well received that in 1976, in a blind tasting alongside some of Bordeaux's and Burgundy's best bottles, the expressive California wines came out on top (see 5 Milestones in California Wine), and the seeds were sown for the state's winemaking dominance.