With Independence Day just around the corner, it seems the perfect time to reflect on America’s journey to becoming a wine producing country. In the 16th century, the first settlers found an abundance of native vines growing on the East Coast. The first challenge for winemakers in Virginia and the Carolina colonies was not finding an indigenous grape that would thrive, but finding one that could satisfy European palates.
In 1619, the first European vines were imported to Virginia and planted in North American soils. The plantings expanded along much of the East Coast but were mostly unsuccessful: The strange climate, diseases and pests took harsh tolls.
The plantings of these vines continued to fail year after year until hybrid vines were developed. The “vignoble” of Cincinnati, the “muscadine” of the South and the “concord” were extensively planted to produce table grapes, jelly and wine.
Around 1779, Franciscan missionaries realized the terroir of California could support European vines. If you fast forward 200 years through vine disease, Prohibition, the World Wars and instability of the market, it brings us today to a country ranked as the fourth largest producer of wine in the world behind Italy, France and Spain.
Today wine is produced in nearly every state, with California leading the pack, making July Fourth an ideal time to enjoy and celebrate the wines of America.
- 2010 Cellar No. 8 Pinot Noir, California (about $12 retail)
- 2010 Cline Cellars Cashmere, California (about $15 retail)
- 2010 Beringer Founders Estate Shiraz, California (about $12 retail)
- 2009 Bell Big Guy Red, California (about $26 retail)
- 2009 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay, California (about $32 retail)
- 2009 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $40 retail)