The United States is the fourth-largest wine-producing country after France, Italy, and Spain. The production in the US State of California alone is more than double that of the entire country of Australia. Wine production has been a growing industry for Americans as it grows annually, increasing from 2 million gallons produced in 1980 to over 250 million gallons today.
Some of the grapes in North America are Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia, Vitis rotundifolia, and Vitis amurensis. But it was when European settlers introduced European grape that made winemaking a big industry. The United States is the world’s fifth-most planted country, with over 1,100,000 acres (4,500 km²) under vines. After France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey, it is the US’ fifth-largest planted nation in the world.
History of American Wine
The Europeans who first explored North America called it Vinland due to their abundance of grapes. The first wine produced in the United States was made from Scuppernong grapes by French Huguenot colonists living near Jacksonville, Florida, between 1562 and 1564. Winemaking was an official objective in the early American colonies, and it soon became apparent that the climate was well-suited for grape production.
The first successful English winemaking in America can be attributed to these efforts. In 1619, the Virginia Company exported French vinifera vines with French vignerons to Virginia, and repeated attempts were made to establish familiar Vitis vinifera varieties beginning with the Virgin Islands Company exporting Norwegian grapes to Saint Croix in 1721. Native pest and vine disease destroyed the vineyards early on, forcing plantings.
William Penn planted a vineyard of French vinifera in Pennsylvania in 1683, and the Alexander grape may have been created due to this interbreeding. In 1806, Indiana’s first commercial winery was built, producing wine from the Alexander grape. Today French-American hybrid grapes are used to produce most of the wine on the East Coast of the United States.
In 1769, the Franciscan missionary Junípero Serra established the first vineyard and winery in California near San Diego. Missionaries would later transport the vines northward, with Sonoma’s initial vineyard planted around 1805.
However, California contains only two native grape varieties that are inefficient producers of high-quality wine. As a result, the missionaries introduced the Mission grape from South America’s Criolla or “colonialized European” label. It is a vinifera variety but a “very low-quality” grape. Jean-Louis Vignes was one of the first farmers in Los Angeles County to use higher-quality vinifera in his vineyard.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Nicholas Longworth, a Cincinnati-based winemaker who produced sparkling wine from Catawba grapes, was the first commercially successful winery in the United States. In the 1860s, Black rot destroyed vineyards in the Ohio River Valley.
Several winemakers moved to the Finger Lakes region of New York due to the low demand for wine in Europe during World War I. This caused many wineries to migrate north to the state of New York’s Finger Lakes region. The Missouri wine industry, centered around Hermann, Missouri’s German colony, exploded during this period, and it soon fell behind California in wine production. In the late 1800s, an insect infestation known as phylloxera destroyed much of America’s growing wine industry in the West and the Eastern United States.
The first state in the United States to go completely dry was Maine, which did so in 1846; it culminated with the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibited alcohol production, sale, and transportation.
In the past, it was illegal to make wine at home. Winemakers were not allowed to have a commercial vineyard. In the past, some people got around this by making wine for religious purposes or bootlegging. Today, some exceptions allow you to make wine for religious purposes and also if you want to make it for your use at home.
American wine production was in very poor shape when Prohibition was repealed. Many talented winemakers had died, vineyards had been neglected or replanted with table grapes as a result of Prohibition, and the national taste in wine had shifted.
In the past, people drank dry table wine. But now, they drink sweet fortified wine. Before Prohibition, three times as much dry table wine was sold as sweet fortified wine. But now, it is more than reversed. In 1935, 81% of California’s production was sweet wines.
At the University of California, Davis, and several of the New York State universities, researchers studied various factors impacting grape quality. Faculty at the institutions conducted research on which grapes thrived best in various locations, taught winemaking procedures, consulted with grape growers and winemakers, offered viticulture degrees, and encouraged high-quality wine production.
The California winemakers’ success in the 1970s and 1980s helped secure foreign investment dollars from other winemaking areas, notably the Champenois. Changing consumer tastes in the United States have also aided this development, with 668 million gallons of wine consumed in the United States in 2004.
The American wine market is presently facing the twin problems of increasing international trade and domestic restrictions on cross-state sales and wine shipment.
American Wine Regions
There are roughly 3,000 commercial vineyards in the United States, and every state has at least one winery. American wineries use American Viticultural Areas or AVA. An American viticultural area is a wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographical features and American Viticultural Areas. They are defined exclusively for grape production and at least one American viticultural area in every state. American viticultural areas may be parts of larger wine regions, such as the Willamette Valley AVA and Columbia Gorge AVAs in Oregon. American viticultural areas are grouped into larger American Viticultural Areas, acting as umbrella regions for the smaller AVAs.
- The West Coast is the most important wine-producing region in the United States, with California, Washington, and Oregon accounting for over 99 percent of all production.
- East Coast of the United States – Notably New Jersey, New York State, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina
- Rocky Mountain Region- Notably Idaho and Colorado
- Midwestern United States-Notably Missouri, Illinois, and Minnesota
- Great Lakes region- Notably Michigan, northern New York, and Ohio
Frequently asked questions
What are the American wine regulations?
The American wine regulations are the rules and laws that govern wine production in the United States. These regulations include the rules for making wine at home, having a commercial vineyard, and shipping wine across state lines.
How to get American Wine in Canada?
If you are an American living in Canada, the best way to get American wines is to order them online. The American government has worked with the Canadian government to make importing American wine easier for American citizens living in Canada. American wines are also available at American restaurants in Canada.
What is American wine?
American wine refers to all the different types of varietal and blended wines that come from grapes grown in the United States. American wineries use American Viticultural Areas or AVAs. American viticultural areas are distinguishable by geographical features and aim to improve product quality. American wines are typically fruitier and less acidic than European wines. American wine production is done in all fifty states, but California leads the way in terms of quantity. There are over three thousand commercial vineyards in America, and every state has at least one winery.
What are the best red wines from American wineries?
Many great American red wines are, but some of the most popular include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.
American wine can I drink as a diabetic?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as American wine can vary significantly in sugar and alcohol content. It is always best to check with your doctor or nutritionist to see if American wine is a safe option for you as a person with diabetes. Many American wines are lower in sugar and alcohol content than their European counterparts, making them a safer option for diabetics.
How much do American Wines cost?
American wines can vary greatly in price, with some wines costing only a few dollars per bottle and others costing hundreds of dollars per bottle. The Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon is the most expensive American wine, which sells for over $3,000 per bottle.
American wine production is booming, with American vines cultivated in all fifty states. American winemakers use American Viticultural Areas to define their various regions, and American wines have been ranked the fourth-largest producer of wine after France, Italy, and Spain. With a wide array of American grape varieties available for planting, we expect more abundant fruit to be made into delicious American wines.