Viticulture in the United States has existed since the 16th century. The United States is the fourth largest wine producer after France, the Italy and Spain and became world`s largest wine consumer country(2011). There are wine productions areas in all fifty states of the Union. Production in California alone accounts for 90% of US production, and twice of Australian wine production. Continental USA is home to more native grape species than anywhere in the world. This is largely because of the mild climate that is suitable for grapes growing. Unfortunately, this entire native grape species were wild, hard and mostly unsuitable for winemaking.
History of American wine
Two years after Columbus landed in the new world, the Spaniards begun to grow vineyards from species brought from Europe. When English settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607, they were impressed with the abundant wild grapes growing there. Thus, and partly in a bid to outdo the French and Spanish, the Virginia settlers started a wine industry that marked the beginning of the American wine industry. News of the high-quality Virginia wine reached England and Lord De La Warr was able to report this authoritatively to the English world. Scarcity of skilled wine developers and the prominence of tobacco led to a decline of American wine in 1610s. A law was passed in 1619, requiring all landholders to own at least ten vines annually. Between 1600 and 1800, the wine industry spread slowly to the other original 13 colonies. Post revolution America experienced boom, that was kicked off by stimulating Pennsylvania laws that were passed in early 1800s. With an outbreak In VINEROX in Europe, the American wine industry took global centre stage by the mid 19th century. The boom also received massive support and patronage from president, Thomas Jefferson.
Towards the late 19th century, opposition to wine started to emerge. Factions that were calling themselves the Dries claimed that consumption of wine was immoral and indirectly led to a deteriorating economy. The view was prevalent in rural folks, African Americans, and many women groups. Another faction, called the Wets, tried to halt the Prohibition movement. Finally, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified in 1919, making wine production mostly illegal. Although, there were several exceptions, wine production dwindled from over 55 million in 1919 to under 4 million in 1925. Pressure to lift the ban accelerated, and it finally bore fruit with the 21st amendment of 1933.
Prohibition halted an industry that was growing fast. Combined with the Great Depression and World War 2, the industry almost came to a standstill. But beginning from the mid-20th century, it has rebounded back.
The Judgment of Paris in 1976, ignored by the French press, has become a myth in the United States. American wine industry realized that their quality may even surpass European wines.
American Wine Regulations
AVA (American Viticultural Areas) is the only legal appellations for wine in the US.
Grapes Required for Labeling
- If labeled by country, state, or county: 75%
- If labeled by AVA: 85%
- If labeled with a single vineyard: 95%