The U.S. is the fourth-biggest wine producing nation on the planet right after France, Spain, and Italy. The history of wine production in the United States dates back to the sixteenth century when the French Huguenot settlers made wine in Jacksonville, Florida using Scuppernong grapes. Wine-making was one of the objectives drafted in the founding charters of the early American colonies of Carolinas and Virginia. However, the native grape species, including Vitis vulpine and Vitis rotundifolia had unfamiliar flavors; therefore, the settlers introduced the European Vitis vinifera. Currently, wine is produced in all fifty American states.
States That Produce the Most Wine
California is the leading wine producing state in the country, which accounts for over 89% of all the American wine. If California were a nation, it would be the fourth-biggest wine producer on the planet. California’s wine production is one-third bigger than that of Australia. The history of wine production in California dates back to the eighteenth century when the Spanish missionaries planted the first vineyards for mass production of wine. The wine was initially used for daily use and religious sacraments. The vines used by the missionaries were from Mexico, and currently, California has over 427,000 acres of vineyards. There are over a hundred grape varieties grown in California including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Merlot, and Syrah among others. Other than being the leading wine producers in the states, the Californians are also the top wine consumers in the country. The Californians consume one in every five wine bottles consumed in the U.S. California is home to over half of the American wineries (3,674 wineries).
Washington is the second top wine producer in the United States right after California. Washington is home to over 9% of the American wineries (689 wineries). Washington wine production accounts for about 4% of the total American wine production. California had over 55,000 acres of vineyards by 2017. Wine production in Washington started after the Italian immigrants introduced Cinsault grapes in the Walla Walla region. The precursors of Washington’s major wineries (Columbia and Chateau-Ste Michelle wineries) were established during the 1950s and 1960s. Chardonnays and Rieslings were introduced in the 1970s while Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon were introduced in the 1990s.
New York is the third-biggest wine producer in the U.S. which accounts for 3% of the country’s production. New York is home to over 320 wineries, which produce over 12 million wine cases annually. Wine production in New York started in the seventeenth century with the Huguenot and Dutch plantings in the Hudson Valley area. Commercial production in New York began in the nineteenth century. Over 83% of the grape region in New York is occupied by Vitis labrusca varieties.
Total Wine Production vs. Wineries
Even though Oregon (3.3 million) produces less wine than New York (12 million), Oregon (566 wineries) has twice as many wineries than New York (320 wineries). Virginia (223 wineries) has more wineries than North Carolina (130 wineries), but it produces less wine than North Carolina. Over half of the wineries in the United States are in California (3,674 wineries) followed by Washington (689 wineries). Washington produces about 13 million cases annually.