It wasn’t so very long ago that wine lovers in the United States had to pack their bags and head to Europe if they wanted to take a trip through wine country. Trips to France and Italy were common for those looking to don their wine tasting caps, but nowadays, those same folks can land in any state and find a wine industry of some kind or another. The number of American wineries is very much on the rise, as is the popularity of the wines being made. It turns out that beer may finally have met its match in this part of the world.
What may come as a huge surprise to many is that the US is now second to only France in terms of wine consumption. Smaller, family-owned American wineries have helped the average drinker see that wine is not solely reserved for the upper class, sophisticated crowd. What also helped was the adoption of a 100-point rating scale that made it easier for new wine drinkers to determine which wines were of a higher quality than others. The end result of these changes has been the wine industry boom that has turned the US into a bona fide wine power player.
While the increase in popularity in the States really began in the 1970’s, the history of growing grapes and making wine in this country goes back way further than that. It is believed that French Huguenots started making wine in Florida in the late 16th century. History also shows that the first vineyard and winery in California, which is the leading producer of wine in the US, came somewhere around 1769. Who knows where the industry would be right now if vine diseases and Prohibition did not effectively wipe it off the face of the map for countless years.
The American wineries in Californian helped turn things around in the 1970’s, as this wines made there rated higher than many European wines in blind taste tests. With critical approval in hand, grape growing and wine production spread out across the country, as innovative winemakers tested the soil and climate in other parts of the country to see if they could handle vineyards. You need only look at a US wine map today to see that a great many of those folks were successful, as every state now has wineries, albeit in widely varying sizes.
What has to be truly exciting for wine lovers in the United States is the rate at which the number of wineries in the country is growing. Rather than delivering a diluted bunch of products, winemakers are going out of their way to ensure that the varietals being produced here keep the US on the meteoric rise that it is currently experiencing in the world of wine. The next time you book a trip anywhere in the US, take a quick look to see if there is a wine region where you are going. You may just become part of the wine loving crowd if you take a day trip to a couple of those great American wineries.