The wine park

Countries

USA

Sonoma-Coast

Sonoma-Coast-Chardonnay

Napa-Valley-Cabernet-Sauvignon

Willamette-Valley-Blanc-de-Pinot-Noir

Introduction

Being the fourth largest producer after Italy, France and Spain, wine is being produced in the United States since the last 300 years. Today, there are nearly 3,000 commercial vineyards with at least one winery in each of the 50 states. Considered the most important wine region outside of Europe, California produces 90% of USA wine. Other important States include Washington (3.5%), New York (3.5%) and Oregon (1%).

It was in 1976 at the Judgement of Paris that the USA wine industry shot to fame with wines from California beating wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy during the blind tastings. California swept the competition in both red wine and white wine categories. It was this event that changed the face of the Californian wine industry and promoted it to the status of one of the world’s premier wine regions.

 

Wine Regions

California: The wine regions are located along the 1100 km long cost line of California producing premium wines and in the Central Valley producing bulk / cheaper wines. There are over 107 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), including the well-known Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Rutherford, Mendocino and Sonoma Valley. The Central Valley is California's largest wine region stretching for almost 500 kms. California produces wines made in nearly every single known wine style including sparkling, dessert and fortified wines. It is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Chardonnay wines. White Zinfandel is an extremely popular rose wine made Zinfandel grapes. Merlot made in a plush, concentrated style is the highest selling varietal. The Cabernet Sauvignon wines are rich with concentrated fruits. Californian Pinots are intense and fruity and in their style. While the red wines were always crafted in more Old World or European styles, producers are increasingly moving towards New World styles producing simple, fruity easy drinking wines. Californian Chardonnays are very different than their European counterparts; they are oaked hence producing buttery, full bodied wines.

Washington: Coming 2nd in production, Washington has 12 AVAs with all but one located in Eastern Washington. It was Italian immigrants who first brought wine here in the Walla Walla region and introduced the Cinsault grape. The largest AVA is Columbia valley which extends into Oregon and subdivided into many smaller ones. Washington wine industry focus has always been on white wines with it being known for its Semillon, Chardonnay and Riesling varieties. Merlot came into focus only in the 1980-90s but major winter freezes has shifted the focus to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah wines by early 21st century. The wine world so far has discovered a new aspect of Washington wines with each passing decade. The wines of Washington State are often characterized by their bright fruit flavours and crisp acidity. In recent years, the state's red wines have leaned towards riper, more fruit forward flavours, noticeable tannins and oak influence with moderately high alcohol levels.

Oregon: This state is most famous for its Pinot Noir wines from Willamette Valley which have received critical acclaim; other prominent varieties include Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot and Riesling. Oregon produces wine on a much smaller scale than California but mainly focuses on the higher-priced segments of the wine market. Other important AVAs include Southern Oregon, Umpqua Valley, Rogue Valley, Snake River Valley and Columbia Gorge that it shares with Washington State.

New York: Even though 83% of grapes produced in New York State are not wine grapes, it does produce Riesling wine that is noted for its consistency and quality, while wine made from Chardonnay is noted to have characteristics of leaner styled Burgundy white wine. It also produces some Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, sparkling wine, late harvest and ice wine.

Interesting Facts

It was in Cincinnati, Ohio that the first commercially successful wine was produced in USA. It was Nicolas Longworth's sparkling wine produced from Catawba grapes. Today, these grapes are mainly used to make juice and jelly.

Wine was first brought to California in 1769 by Spanish Missionaries to made wine only for religious proposes.