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America is a major player in the global wine industry and produces approximately 9% of the world's wine.
America is the 4th largest producer of wine in the world. Only Italy, France, and Spain produce more wine than America does.
In this blog post, we'll look at the history of winemaking in the USA. We'll look at some of America's most famous wine regions and the wine grape varieties that are grown there. Finally, we'll recommend some of our favourite American wines.
So read on to learn all about America's delicious contribution to the world of wine!
When the early European colonists settled in America, one of their goals was to start producing wine successfully. However, a lot of the native grapes of America produced wines that were not to the early settlers tastes.
So the colonists attempted to plant European grapes (vitis vinifera) across the East coast of America. Unfortunately, the European grapes did not grow well in the American climate.
It wasn't until 1629 when Spanish Missionaries came across the perfect wine-producing climate of New Mexico that the first vitis vinifera vines were planted in America and production of 'typical' European wines began.
It was even later in 1769 when a Spanish mission was started in San Diego and European settlers began making wine in the state of California.
American winemaking was hit hard during the 1920s. This period saw a period of economic depression and prohibition across the USA. It wasn't a great period to have a vineyard or winery in the USA. A lot of American vineyards were razed and destroyed during the prohibition era.
Unfortunately, the wine industry in the USA took a long time to recover after repeal. This was largely due to the amount of time it takes new vineyards to grow grapes that produce great flavours. It can take up to 10 consistent years of cultivation for the grapes of some vines to be suitable for winemaking. In the time it took for new vineyards to become established, many Americans lost interest in wine and began to prefer other types of alcohol.
It was only in the 1960's that the American wine industry started to rebound after prohibition. It was in the 1960s and 1970s that Californian wines began to surge in popularity, both within the United States and across the world.
Wine is produced across all states of the USA, but there are American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) established across 34 different states.
An American Viticultural Area is a defined wine grape-growing area in the United States. Wines labelled with an AVA must have at least 85% of the grapes come from that region, and the wine must be fully finished in the state where the AVA is located.
AVAs were created for the benefit of both winemakers and consumers. Winemakers wanted consumers to be confident in the wine they were buying. They wanted them to know that the wine was made in a specific area and had a certain pedigree. Consumers also often look for wines from specific AVAs because they have their own unique taste and characteristics.
California has 107 different AVAs, or wine regions. Some of the most famous ones are Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Rutherford and Sonoma Valley.
It is estimated that California is responsible for around 85% of all US wine production, and vineyards are estimated to cover almost 1% of Californian terrain.
California is a huge state with different microclimates depending on what part of the state you are in.
The many different climates in California allow the state to produce a variety of different types of wine grapes, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel.
Oregon is the second-largest wine-producing region in the United States, and has 18 distinct AVAs.
The vast majority of Oregon's wine production is Pinot Noir, which is estimated to make up over 60% of the states wine output. Other wine grapes grown in Oregon include Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Chardonnay.
There are now 19 distinct AVAs in Washington State, and Washington is the third-largest wine-producing state in America.
The Columbia Valley AVA is the biggest wine region in Washington State. It is famous for wine grapes like Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
New York state is the fourth-largest wine-producing state in America. There are seven well-known wine-producing regions in the state, including Finger Lakes, Long Island Region and Hudson River.
The Finger Lakes AVA is known for its Riesling and sparkling wines, with Long Island and Hudson River being recognised for their focus on Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and Cabernet Franc.
The most popular wines from America are Californian Chardonnay and Californian Cabernet Sauvignon.
There was quite a famous wine tasting event in 1976 which has become known as "The Judgement of Paris". This is considered by many to have been the turning point for the United States wine industry being taken more seriously on the global stage.
At the tasting event, Californian wine was positioned in a blind test against established 'fine wines' from the Bordeaux region. In a surprise result, the judges (some of the best wine tasters in France) chose the Californian wine over the French in both white wine and red wine categories..
Since this date, there has been massive demand across the globe for Californian wines.
However, there are great wines to be found all across America. A great list from food and drink website Epicurious lists the best wines from 50 American states.
We have a small but perfectly formed collection of American Wines in our online shop, so why not head over and take a look.
This rosé is produced from Zinfandel grapes in California and is a perfect accompaniment for warm summer days.
This Californian Chardonnay is a complex and creamy wine that has a lot of fruit and minerality.
This wine is perfect for summertime and has a delicious strawberry finish. It is made from vineyards around Hilmar, California.
Find out more about other wine producing countries: