Whether preparing mimosas for brunch, toasting a special occasion, or ringing in the new year, do you know anyone that opts to pop open a bottle of California sparkling wine rather than Champagne?

Yeah, we don’t either.

However, looking at some recent statistics, California sparkling wine is starting to become a pretty big “thing” in our country. According to the Wine Institute, wineries in California sold nearly 9 million cases of sparkling wine in the U.S. this past year; that’s more than all of the sparkling wine imported to the U.S. combined.

So, what’s the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne? Basically, nothing. Champagne is simply sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. The U.S. government, however, lets U.S. producers label their sparkling wine as “Champagne” if they make it abundantly clear what the true geographic origin of the grapes actually is. In other words, U.S. producers are not allowed to deceive consumers and trick them into believing what they are drinking is really from France’s Champagne region.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal discussed California sparkling wine and touched upon reasons why sparkling wine is still not as well known as its French counterpart. It seems one major reason is lack of funding to promote these California-based brands. They are much smaller and do not have the money for the major marketing campaigns and sponsorships that bigger companies do. Additionally, the common approach for producing sparkling wine is both time-consuming and expensive, so once the product is finally ready, they don’t have much money left to promote it. This means that some beautifully produced sparkling wines are not as widely appreciated because a) people don’t know about them and b) they can’t tell the difference between all the varieties.

Frankly, we are a little confused by what we’ve been reading about California sparkling wine. The numbers obviously don’t lie – people are buying and drinking this alcoholic beverage, for sure. However, there is also information out there about how no one knows about sparkling wine. If California sparkling wine is doing so well without major promotion, we can’t wait to see what happens when one brand with a little bit of money starts to get the name out there even more.