The United States is the fourth biggest wine-producing country in the world and has established a superb reputation for the past thirty years as a top fine wine-producing nation as well as one of the largest consuming wine countries.
The history of the United States has been fast developing and it is around since the 17th century with the start of the European colonisation, as the first planted vines were mostly for domestic purposes 1619 in Virginia and the first vineyard at Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1779. Since then the East Coast has been driving force of North America's wine industry with much famed Napa Valley and Sonoma.
A historical event took place in the 1976 Judgement of Paris, California wines stunned French judges in a blind tasting organized by British wine expert, Steven Spurrier. The extraordinary 1973 Chardonnay by Miljenko Grgich at Château Montelena Winery took first prize in the white category, beating France’s best white Burgundies. And for the reds, the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon won top honours among the classified Bordeaux super Châteaux. It was a turning point in the wine world, and the United States wine has become more and more popular wine destination.
The country is huge, and the climate ranges greatly from coast to coast, as different grape varieties can thrive in various wine regions. California has a climate ideal for producing rich, powerful, tannic and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah wines, such as in the sunny Napa Valley region, while the cooler coastal areas of Sonoma allow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to shine. North of California extends the Pacific Northwest, which is composed of Oregon and Washington, as Oregon has been delivering some highest-rated Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines, and Washington has become better known for their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, especially those from the Columbia Valley.
In the past 10 years, New York State wineries have had success with growing and producing wine from Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The United States has vines planted in 50 states and the country has created a straightforward classification system called AVA (American Viticultural Area) which is similar to the European more or less. AVA indicates the specific geographical area a wine comes from, and the United States has just over 200 AVA which are granted according to the particular climatic and geographical features of the wine-growing areas they cover. For an AVA title to appear on a wine's label, at least 85% of the grapes must have been grown within the limits of that AVA and for the county and state-level AVAs, this minimum requirement drops to 75%. As well as wines which have been labelled with the name of a grape variety must be made from at least 75% of the specified grape. The United States is an exiting wine country which surprise with its well-made wines.