From Winemaking to the LA Lakers: How California Forged its Own Unique Culture

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California is widely beloved as one of the most vibrant and colorful places across the nation. A melting pot of different cultures and traditions, California has embraced its diversity and emerged with its own trademark culture that sets it apart from any other US state and has made it famous around the world. But what exactly is California culture – and what makes it so unique and internationally appealing?

Come to California for the Sun, Stay for the Wine

The Golden State traces its roots back to Spanish and Mexican influences, with Hispanic culture playing a crucial role in the state’s sunny predisposition that is its global trademark. Large immigrant flows from East Asia and the rest of Latin America have also blended with local East Coast culture to create a unique attitude. California has consistently stood out as one of the more liberal US states, while its ideal warm climate and access to the ocean have had a huge impact on the Cali lifestyle. Outgoing, laidback and fun-loving, Californians have made a tremendous contribution to American and global culture across several sectors, from gastronomy to all kinds of games. It was the 1850s Gold Rush that first turned California into the place to be, and people haven’t stopped flocking here since. The state is renowned for its prestigious educational institutions like the California Institute of Technologyand Stanford University, that have been known to attract students from all over the globe, consolidating California’s position as one of the leading global hubs for education and innovation.

WSET 3 Minute Wine School – California, presented by Jancis Robinson MW

Local cuisine is an unparalleled blend of southern, Spanish, and Latin American influences, while the state is perhaps most famous globally for producing amazing wine. Napa Valley is renowned for being home to many wineries, while some of the nation’s top producers like E. & J. Gallo Winery, The Wine Group (both of which are also well-known for being among the largest winemakers across the world, with a huge international presence), and Bronco Wine Company are based in California. Known as the Grape State, California grows over 3.3 million tons of grapes for winemaking, scattered across more than 540,000 acres of land, and produces almost 90% of all wine in the US. It also has put California on the global culinary map: Californians themselves may be surprised by the number, but the state produced 97% of all US wine exports in 2017, which amounted in total to $1.53 billion in profit and reached over 42 million cases (380 million liters). Golden State wine exports have risen by almost 70% in value in the past 10 years, with the EU countries being the primary market ($553 million in 2017) – another reason why Europeans are so fond of California.

California Loves Games

The Golden State also became famous across the world in the 1960s and 1970s as the birthplace of the hippie movement – a true testament of the Californian relaxed, friendly, and liberal attitude that deeply influenced America’s history and inspired smaller hippie groups around the world. Californians love to have fun and the state boasts a vibrant nightlife that has turned it into a top international tourist destination. Los Angeles, in particular, has been celebrated as one of the top entertainment hubs across the US and the world, with a brimming theater and music scene. With a warm climate and the sea right next to most of its big cities California has also routinely excelled in sports and is recognized as the nation’s surfing capital. In basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers have forever changed the NBA landscapeby dominating in the 1960s-1970s and again in the 2000s, attracting worldwide attention to the nation’s basketball tournament. It is no exaggeration to say that many international fans first got acquainted with the NBA world through the feast of talent like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, all showcased by the Lakers.

LeBron James chooses Los Angeles Lakers for next chapter | SportsCenter | ESPN

Although the team have struggled a bit in the 2010s, the recent acquisition of legend LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers is the most promising sign that the team can return to its former glory and make both US and international fans proud once again. California has also left its mark on gambling, by popularizing the California No Bust Blackjack that is played around the globe. The novel element of this blackjack variant is that it allows players to win on busted hands. As Betway explains, in classic blackjack a player automatically losesif their hand goes bust (when they accumulate over 21 points), and a player wins when the dealer busts and their hand doesn’t. Yet in No Bust Blackjack, a busted hand can still win if its point total is lower than the dealer’s busted hand – a twist that has appealed to gamblers and is regularly played in casinos internationally. Furthermore, the state has often been used as an inspiration for games that made it big: the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game by Rockstar, one of the most popular instalments in the GTA series was a global hit. It familiarized gamers worldwide with California, as it is set in the fictional state of San Andreas that is heavily based on the Golden State. The game features two urban centers that mirror real Cali metropolitan cities – Los Santos is a fictional Los Angeles and San Fierro is based on San Francisco.

With excellence across a wide spectrum of industries, California has managed not only to forge its unique identity, but also to leave its mark on the American way of life and influence global culture.