Did you know that the USA is the fourth largest wine producing country in the world? The USA is behind only Italy, Spain and France! All fifty states are now producing wine within the United States. Every year the US produces around 1.1 million acres of grapes destined for the bottle. California is the number one American producer, producing around 89% of the total wine produced in America.
Native American Grape Varieties
America was once referred to as "Vinland" because early European explorers found many grape vines growing. The first known wine that was made in America was made in the 1500's by French settlers in Jacksonville, Florida. Wine-making was a goal of colonial America but was short lived because many settlers did not like the taste of the natively growing grapes. For this reason, the French vinifera varieties were exported and grown in America. Today most American varieties produced on the east coast are French/American hybrids.
Early Timeline of Wine in America
1562 - Wine produced in Jacksonville, Florida by French Huguenot settlers.
1619 - French vinifera grapes grown in Virginia by the Virginia Company.
1629 - New Mexico was developed as a wine region as part of the Spanish Kingdoms.
1680 - Mission grapes (variety of vitis vinifera from Spain) grew the California wine region. Production was led by the Catholic New World missionaries.
1683 - William Penn planted French vinifera and crossed it with native vitis labrusca to create "Alexander".
1769 - Missionary, Junipero Serro started California's first vineyard and winery near San Diego.
1787 - Pierre Legaux founded one of the first commercial wineries in Pennsylvania.
1799 - John James Dufour, formerly of Vevey, Switzerland, started producing wine in Kentucky.
1805 - Thomas Jefferson received the wine produced at the "First Vineyard" in Kentucky.
1806 - wine produced in Indiana using Alexander variety.
mid 1830's - Americas first successful commercial winery was founded Cincinnati, Ohio by Nicolas Longworth. His specialty was sparkling wine using Catawba grapes. Catawba grapes have a musky flavor and are a cross between vitis labrusca and vitis vinifera. Catawba grapes were the most widely grown grape of the 19th century.