Top 5 Wine-Producing States
Indeed, in just a few decades, the USA has become one of the leading wine producers in the world behind Spain, Italy, and France, developing advanced wine-producing skills and a real taste for refined wines. After all, it was Californian wines which bested some of France’s finest wines, including Mouton-Rothschild, during the famous 1976 blind tasting in Paris, marking the beginning of a new era for American wines.
From the sunny grape-covered hills of California to the picturesque lake wineries in New York, wine enthusiasts will step foot into a wine wonderland the minute they start their wine journey in America.
To guide you on this wonderful journey, we’ve highlighted below the top 5 wine-producing states in the US. We hope you enjoy the ride!
Everything started over 250 years ago when a Franciscan missionary established the first known vineyard in California. Blessed with over 200 days of sunshine a year and cool temperatures at night, the region’s countless vineyards have been thriving since then, producing some of the world’s finest wines. Nowadays, 95% of US wine exports come from California, a testament to the region’s rich wine history.
Indeed, with over 4,600 wineries, most of them family-owned, the state is home to almost half of the country’s wineries and accounted for 86% of the US wine production in 2019. In fact, if California was a country, it’d be the fourth largest wine producer in the world.
From the world-renowned Napa Valley and the remote area of the Sierra Foothills to the bucolic Clarksburg region, the state brims with boutique wineries offering fantastic handmade wines. More than 110 wine grape varieties are cultivated throughout the state, making it a haven for wine lovers. Whether you’re looking for cool-climate wines such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay to warmer climate varieties such as Zinfandel, California has it all.
With over 800 wineries, Washington state accounts for 5% of the national wine production and is, therefore, the second biggest wine-producing state behind California. Some of the state’s most popular wine regions include Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills, and Columbia Valley.
Producing some of the most acclaimed wines in the world, the state exports to over 40 different countries. The region grows a wide range of grape varieties (over 70 varieties cultivated) with a strong focus on Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. A vast number of their regional boutique wineries only produce premium hand-crafted wines.
While the local wine industry is now well established and is one of the most prominent in the country, it wasn’t always the case. Indeed, the region’s wine production has significantly expanded over the last two decades, growing from approximately 100 wineries in 2001 to over 800 in 2019. In 2015, the state-of-the-art Wine Science Center was even created at Washington State University to support wine research and development, and power the promising regional wine industry’s growth with innovative techniques.
Third largest wine-producing state in the USA, New York is home to more than 400 family-owned wineries and accounts for 4% of the national wine production. One particularity of this wine region is that the grape variety Vitis Labrusca represents over 80% of the production. Vitis Labrusca is primarily used to make juices. However, the four main wine areas in the state also grow Vitis Vinifera varieties, including Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Seyval Blanc, Noiret, and Dechaunac.
The recently established Long Island wine region produces excellent Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc wines along with some experimental varieties such as Austrian/Germanic grape variety Blaufränkisch and Italian varieties Friulano and Refosco. The Niagara Escarpment & Lake Erie are two small wine regions located northwest of the state and are best known for their Rieslings while the Hudson River Region produces some excellent Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons.
Oregon features over 800 wineries and is the fourth biggest wine producer in the nation in volume behind the state of New York.
This incredible wine region has been consistently growing over the last few years, culminating at 600 million in sales in 2018 and focusing on producing artisan premium wines. Indeed, while the state only accounts for 1% of the national wine production, Oregon’s wines accounted for 18% of the Wine Spectator’s 90+ ratings regarding domestic wines between 2015 and 2019. Another testament to the region’s wines quality is the fact that five of its wines ranked on the coveted Wine Spectator’s top 100 wine list in 2019.
One of the best-known wine regions in Oregon is the Willamette Valley, which was even awarded 2016 Wine Region of the Year by the influential Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
From the picturesque Columbia Gorge to Portland’s urban winery feel, the region is famous for producing world-class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo.
Texas might not be what comes to mind first when thinking about wine, yet the Lone Star State is the fifth largest wine producing state in the USA with over 14,000 tons produced in 2019 (1% of the national wine production). Over 400 wineries are scattered throughout the area, growing a wide range of grape varieties from Viognier, Marsanne and Albariño to Sangiovese and Syrah.
Benefiting from long hot summer days and cool evenings, the wine region is split between eight main AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). These fantastic wine areas include Texas High Plains, Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country, Texas Davis Mountains, Mesilla Valley, Texoma, Bell Mountain, Escondido and the renowned Texas Hill Country, home to Val Verde, the oldest winery in Texas.
Second most visited wine region in the USA, Texas Hill Country has quickly become one of the most popular spots to sample wines in the country. Indeed, the beautiful area features over 50 wineries which attract over 5 million visitors every year.
Testament to its growing popularity, the region was also named top destination for oenophiles in 2014 by the Wine & Trail Magazine and ranked in the top 10 best wine travel destinations in 2014 by the Wine Enthusiast.
We hope this article sheds some light on the leading wine-producing states in the USA. Have you ever explored any of these fantastic wine regions? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.
If you’ve ever gone wine tasting and heard all these different wine terms, words and phrases, but had no idea what any of it meant, don’t worry about it,