Is it possible that the United States is really the 4th largest wine producing region in the world? Not only is it possible, it’s absolutely true. Not a country known for its patience, the US has tapped its famous American Ingenuity and become one of the Top 5 global producers in record time. And, while regions such as California, the Pacific Northwest and New York State’s Finger Lakes are still ahead of the pack, viable wineries are now up and running in all 50 states. In fact, over 3,000 vineyards exist across the country, happily thriving in exceptionally diverse climates and terrains.
In the USA, California is still King. Producing 90% of US wine annually, its two primary regions – the Napa Valley and the Sonoma Valley – continue to excel in growing signature Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals. To the north, the Pacific Northwest region, which includes Washington State and Oregon, cool-climate varietals such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris have found a
As wine consumption in the United States increases, so does the number of new and appealing wineries. Not only are they producing competitive, world-class wines, but they are also advancing the America wine industry as a whole through festivals, tours and tastings. The Top 10 regions in the country include some familiar names, but there are some new and exciting ones that might genuinely surprise you:
1. California: Synonymous with California wine country, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys have a solid track record of developing highly rated Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa) as well as Pinot Noir (Sonoma). But these premier regions now have some competition from the expansive Central Coast region. Spanning almost the entire coastline from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the Paso Robles sub-region is particularly ambitious, and has been turning heads among consumers and critic alike for its Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rhône-inspired blends.
2. Washington State: With world-class Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah, Washington is now second in annual production, outperformed only by California. Exporting to 40 different countries around the world, the state has close to 800 wineries in operation and 14 recognized AVAs – the American version of France’s AOC.
3. Oregon: Oregon will soon be known as America’s Burgundy, as its Pinot Noir is not only highly rated, but it’s primary Pinot Noir vineyards are grown in Willamette Valley, a region which shares the same latitude with France’s own hub of classic Pinot Noir production. Riesling, Chardonnay and Gamay also flourish in the soils of this innovative northwest leader.
4. New York: The Empire State is lucky to have not one but two separate regions which have been highly celebrated by serious wine enthusiasts. With over 100 wineries within its boundaries, upstate’s industrious Finger Lakes region continues to be the home of east coast winemaking, while Long Island’s North Fork is focused on producing elevated configurations of Riesling and Grewürztraminer.
5. Virginia: It’s only right that Thomas Jefferson’s adopted city of Charlottesville ranks in the Top 10, considering the former President’s very vocal passion for wine. Along with supporting nearly 300 wineries, the state can also boast of a 200-day growing season and rocky volcanic soils, benefitting notable producers such as Barboursville Vineyards and Linden Vineyards.
6. Texas: Texas Hill Country wine region, which at 9 million acres and over 300 wineries is the second largest wine region in the US, has embraced a diverse group of varietals that thrives in warm, dry climates, with Tempranillo, Syrah, Albarino, and Cabernet Sauvignon among them.
7. Pennsylvania: Perfectly positioned between Lake Erie to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Pennsylvania has expanded its wineries to over 250. Offering an ideal climate and fertile soils for innovative French-America hybrids, the state produces over 2 million gallons of wine annually and delivers an economic impact pf $1.5 billion.
8. Ohio: A winemaking region since the early 19th century, Ohio’s wine industry was delivered a blow by the onset of the Prohibition Era. Today, however, the state has over 200 viable wineries which grow one of the longest and most diverse list of varietals in the country. The Buckeye State also has five recognized AVAs.
9. Michigan: Dubbed the “Napa of the Midwest,” Michigan’s Lake Michigan Shore region is as stunning as it is productive. The Lake itself provides relief from an immoderate climate, assisting the region’s nearly 200 wineries in producing wines which are highly regarding for their finesse and complexity.
10. Missouri: German settlers are responsible for introducing this region to winemaking over 150 years ago. Modern day Missouri supports 160 wineries of its own and has earned 4 recognized AVAs.