United States

American Wine: A Classic Hollywood Fairytale

The United States has mastered the art of wine-making claiming it's spot as one of the world's leading wine-producing nations. The glitz and glamor of Napa and Sonoma has contributed to its excellent reputation as wine producer that can be likened to the world’s finest wine connoisseurs. However, America is home to numerous, smaller wine regions such as Oregon's Willamette Valley and the New York Finger Lakes, producing world famous wines. Although the United States has been producing wine for about 400 years, it is only in the last forty years that American wine has been recognized as one of the world’s best. Currently the Unites States produces roughly 18.5 million hectoliters of wine annually and ranks fourth in wine production, surpassed by France, Italy and Spain.

Although all fifty states in the United States produce wine to a certain extent, California leads in production, followed by Washington, Texas and Oregon. Five percent of production is spread across the remaining states with Texas and Virginia being the leaders in producing wine mainly for the local market. The United States has a vastly diverse landscape varying in terroir, climate and altitude. Wine regions range in location from the Fair Play coast to the fog laden Edna Valley.

American Viticultural Areas includes the Upper Mississippi River Valley which spans 29, 900 square miles, Cole Ranch in Mendocino County, California which takes up just 62 acres, and Augusta which was the first recognized American Viticultural Area gaining the honor on June 20, 1980.


History of Wine Production in the United States of America
Wine was first produced in the early 17th century after the arrival of the first European settlers, who had the winemaking knowledge and skill learned in Europe. Native North American vine species, such as Vitis Labrusca were renowned for being both robust and high-yielding. As a result, immigrants introduced very few vine species to the United States. The Vitis Labrusca and other native vine species did not produce the style or quality of wine that European settlers were accustomed to.

In the early 17th century, immigrants shipped the European Vinifera vines to the United States. The Vinifera was vulnerable to pest such as phylloxera and, fungal infections. Wine producers soon realized that vine breeding and grafting were key to creating a balance between palatable wines and manageable vines. Presently, almost every wine-producing vine in the United States is either a hybrid variety such as the Seyval Blanc or, a vinifera vine shoot grafted into a native vine that is resistant to phylloxera-resistant.

The United States’ wine industry experienced its first taste of success during the Californian gold rush of the 1840s. The demand for fine wine led to an increase in viticulture across all fifty states. Since then the wine industry has had a rollercoaster ride due to changing market demands.


Events such as economic depression, Prohibition, and war during the early 20th century impacted negatively on the American wine industry sending it into a slump. Market demand increased only after World War II when the emphasis shifted to economic, cultural and social development. Wine-making shot to the spotlight in the 1970s when renewed interest sparked what is best described as a ‘national wine renaissance’. American entrepreneurs were encouraged to take up long-term viticulture sparking the national growth of small-scale wineries and creating significant momentum to carry the industry into the 21st century.

Identifying wine by region is just as important in the United States as it is in Europe. There are around two hundred wine-making regions that are identified by the AVAs – American Viticultural Areas. While European AVAs are more detailed in terms of oenological, geographical and viticultural factors, American AVAs are less restrictive, and indicate just the wine growing region. American AVAs are mainly Californian, taking up almost 30, 000 square miles (about 77, 700 square kilometers).

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Pinot Noir
Whiskey Bourbon
Rare Red Blend
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