United States Wines

It was not that long ago that only French wines were considered “good”. In the last few decades, the United States has become a powerhouse in the world of wine. The Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Oregon wine regions offer wines to challenge any other in the world. Other US wine regions have equally as promising wines being offered.

Wine regions in the US are controlled by American Viticultural Area, or AVA. The Tax and Trade Bureau regulates the AVAs. There are no grape type requirements for an AVA – just that the vineyard is within a set geographical boundary. 85% of grapes labelled as an AVA must actually come from within that AVA area. AVAs can contain other AVAs and can overlap each other.

American wine has been produced for over 300 years. Today, wine production is performed in all fifty states, with California leading the way in wine production followed by New York, Washington State and Oregon. The United States is the fourth largest wine producing country in the world after France, Italy, and Spain. The production in the U.S. State of California alone is more than double of the production of the entire country of Australia.

The North American continent is home to several native species of grape, including Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia, Vitis rotundifolia, Vitis vulpina, and Vitis amurensis, but it was the introduction of the European Vitis vinifera by European settlers that led to the growth of the wine making industry. With more than 1,100,000 acres (4,500 km2) under vine, the United States is the fifth most planted country in the world after France, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

Though every state produces some wine, only a few have the quality to reach broad-based commercial sales. Until recently, these sales were hampered by an old Federal law limiting interstate sale of wines – a law which oddly, favored foreign wines over American. Now, with that law overturned by the United States Supreme Court, states with smaller production have an equal opportunity to bring quality wines to market in other states. We expect that within the next ten years, Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Ohio, Oregon and others will be producing comparable wines to many of the older, more traditional countries in Europe, while competing with upcoming wine producers such as South Africa, Chile, Argentina and even England.

While many of us know of California wines, and some may know of New York’s bubbly, most of us are unaware of wines within our own states. Some of these produce superb wines that should be savored and part of your cellar.

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