As a wine lover, visiting different wine countries is always one of the top entries on your to-do list. There is no better time to make such a trip than during the fall months when the weather is pleasant, and the leaves are changing. You will appreciate the scenery, and the wineries are also in full swing during these times. Aside from the picturesque views, you get to visit vineyards when the grape crushing and winemaking is at its peak.

The wine regions in the U.S have a lot to offer, and you will enjoy the trip immensely. From Charlottesville, Virginia to Willamette Valley, Oregon, the country is chockfull with great wine destinations. We have prepared a list of vacation-worthy wine regions you have to visit to experience American wine.

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California Wine Country

As one of the most famous wine regions in the country, the wine-growing region in California takes up about two-thirds of the southern region of the West Coast. The state also spans an area covering 10 degrees of latitude. In this expansive state, the scenery is breathtaking with valleys, mountains, plateaus, and plains. The topography of the area is just as complicated as the wine offerings from the place, so wine lovers have a lot to enjoy when visiting the wine country in this region.

California wines only gained the prominence that they now enjoy about three decades ago. Though the wines have not been in the limelight for so many years, this winemaking region has a history that goes back 200 years. The first vines planted in these areas were imported from Europe when the missionaries worked their way to the West Coast. These earlier trips by the missionaries constitute a significant part of the winemaking history so many years after the region establishing itself as a winemaking region deserving of worldwide recognition.

In the first half of the 20th century, the United States was marred by a string of unfortunate events; the prohibition years, war, and the Great Depression. Put together; these stifled the wine industry to a great extent. Only after the economic advances after the second world war was the industry revitalized. The socio-cultural improvements that came with the economic revival spawned a renewed interest in winemaking. In the 1970s, industry leaders rediscovered the winemaking passion in the state, thus sparking the national renaissance in winemaking that occurred in these times. This inspired a renewed zeal in winemaking that led to the establishment of small wineries whose efforts to upscale through the years have kept the momentum going into the 21st century.

California today

California has grown into one of the most prominent wine regions across the world, with some of the largest wineries situated in the state. Here you will also find some of the rarest wine bottles in boutique wineries. The cult wines in the stores are quite the rare find and come at a mind-boggling price.

Ninety percent (90%) of the total wine made in the U.S comes from California. This accounts for about 60 percent (60%) of all the wine consumed in all of the U.S. In 2011, the state broke the record for the most cases sold in a year with 211.9 million cases sold.

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Lynmar Estate @lynmarestate

Main wine grapes in the region

California cultivates a wide variety of wine grapes, with the main varieties being Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards also cultivate a wide range of European vines such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. You could also include Zinfandel among these as since it has a genetic makeup identical to Tribidrag or Primitivo in Croatia and Italy, respectively. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are two of the most grown whites in the region, even though the former is much more popular than the latter. The vines are grafted to American rootstocks that are resistant to phylloxera (plant-parasitic insects). Some of the less popular American and European breeds are used to making wine meant only for local consumption.

In total, the state grows over 100 grape varieties which include, Spanish, Italian, and French as well as hybrid varieties. This also includes new Vitis Vinifera breeds developed by the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. Seven of the most cultivated grape varieties include:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Chardonnay
  • Syrah
  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel
  • Sauvignon Blanc

The region is also known for producing a considerable volume of sparkling wines. From Domaine Chandon, known for Moet & Chandon to Roederer Estate and Domaine Carneros. French Champagne houses have established bases in the Napa Valley and Anderson Valley to meet supply for North and Central America.

Climate and soil conditions

The climate and soils in the state vary quite substantially, such that there is a wide array of variables influencing the cultivation methods. Some of the essential conditions include latitude, altitude, and closeness of the Pacific Ocean. During the summer, the Pacific helps create a fog over the coast. Warm air rises, causing the cold air to be sucked in. The mist can travel quite far inland and can reach distances up to 100 miles (160km). As it moves, the cold wind from the ocean cools and refreshes the land.

The areas near the coast are colder and thus more suitable for grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which do well in cold climates. As you move further inland, the vineyards cultivate some of the most famous reds from California. These are made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Zinfandel is also cultivated, producing some of the best quality vintages across the state.

Red wine grapes varieties

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Barbera
  • Carignan
  • Malbec
  • Mourvedre
  • Petite Sirah
  • Sangiovese
  • Petit Verdot
  • Tannat
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Glass of Wine on Lynmar Estate @jjsmithereen

Trends

California has always enjoyed good numbers, selling their brands locally and for export as well. This trend changed, and there was a slump in the 1980s. At this time, the industry was dominated mostly by varieties of Chardonnay and Bordeaux. Wine drinkers become too familiar with the available selections, and the thrill of wine drinking was lost. This was bad for sales, so winemakers such as Rhone Rangers and Italian winemakers just starting in the area, attempted to reignite the wine scene. They introduced wines from new grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and Viognier. A region that makes all types of wine varieties, means that it would recover from the setback and go on to do well in the international markets.

New World styles

In California, winemakers prefer craft wines made in European and Old World styles. Many of the wines from this region favor a more fruit dominant and simpler flavor of the New World Wines. The weather in some of the areas in the state is warm, allowing winemakers to use very ripe fruit that produces a wine that is more fruity than earthy. This also allows the winemakers to make wines with an alcohol content that goes as high as 13.5%. The Californian Chardonnay varies quite significantly from, say Chablis. Wineries in this region like to use malolactic fermentation combined with oak aging. This method gives the wines a full-bodied and buttery feel that sets them apart.

The Sauvignon Blanc from the region also differs from others across regions, such as New Zealand or the Loire Valley as it is more acidic. In a style developed by Robert Mondavi, Sauvignon Blanc is allowed to age in oak, thus changing the flavor profile significantly. The style is known as Fume Blanc and has become the standard for most California wineries.

The Cabernet Sauvignon made from these areas is recognized as one of the best varieties across the world. The wines scored high in the Judgment of Paris. The wines become trademarks that have put the region on the map when it comes to winemaking. They are loved for their rich and lush flavors with a concentration of fruity tastes. For instance, the Pinot Noir from this area is much more intense with a style that has more fruity than mineral tastes, which is the opposite of the more subtle and elegant styles from Oregon or Burgundy.

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California Wines @jessiekbb15

Washington State Wines, Wineries and Wine Country

In Washington, the wine niche is enjoying a boom that has made it one of the fastest-growing industries in the state’s agricultural sector. The wine tourism industry is also one of the best periods in a very long time. This is mainly due to the 400% increase in wineries in the state over the past decade. The increase in winemakers has also come with a wave of tourists, spurring a multi-million dollar business in wine tourism.

Washington is one of the most visited wine regions in the whole of the country, and for a good reason as well. The region lies in the same latitude (460N) as some of the renowned French wine regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux. The expansive wine country in Washington State includes 14 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs). These are recognized federally as appellations of American wine. Three of the regions are territories that are shared with the state of Oregon. Another is shared with the state of Idaho.

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Washington wines @yakimavalley

Climate for the wine regions in Washington State

The climatic conditions across the state vary greatly, and this affects the cultivation methods used in different areas. Cutting North to South following the Cascade Mountains, the terrain is that of lush greenery as you move to the east of the mountains. These act as a barrier. The area to the west of the mountains lacks such vegetation. The drier west side has only one recognized winery, the Puget Sound AVA. This area produces only about 1% of the total yearly vintage from the region.

The viticulture areas of the Puget Sound have a cold climate and the marine winds blowing to the east flow over the Cascade Range and the Coast Range. As the clouds continue to drift eastwards, the temperatures decrease as they rise; thus, moisture falls as rain or snow. The humidity rarely breaches the barrier that is the Cascade Range. The “rain shadow” effect is most pronounced in these regions, and thus almost half of Washington State is semi-arid.

The dry climate, combined with the long daylight hours in the area, which lies on a northern latitude, makes the area one of the best to cultivate winemaking grapes. Cultivation is through vineyard canopies, which are controlled through irrigation management. Wine grapes are allowed to ripen completely, thus giving the wine intricate fruity flavors. The acid levels are also well-balanced. The wine is aromatic and is one of the signature attributes of wine from Washington State.

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Washington wines @yakimavalley

Best standard wine from the state

Most of the vineyards producing the best standard wine from the state are on the east side of the Cascades. These provide almost 99% of the wine from this state. The state has 14 official appellations, and 13 of these come from this region. The Columbia Valley has a macro appellation that comprises other smaller AVAs such as Red Mountain, Walla Walla Valley, Rattlesnake Hills, and The Rocks District of Milton –Freewater (sub-appellation that is part of the Walla Walla Valley but is entirely in the state of Oregon).

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Washington grapes @yakimavalley

Oregon Wines, Wineries and Wine Country

The State of Oregon is internationally recognized for the wines it produces. In the United States, the state ranks fourth in terms of wine production. The state has a long history of winemaking that dates back to the 1800s. There are several regions in the state where wine grapes are cultivated. Some of the regions are being shared with the states of Idaho and Washington. While the state has been making its wine for quite a long time, commercial production only began in the 1960s.

Wine varieties from the state

All wine produced in the United States is branded as a varietal, meaning the wine is associated with a single variety of grape. The state wine laws require that the grape variety names the wine and must have at least 90% of the grape.

The state is known among wine lovers for its Pinot Noir, which is the main variety produced all through the state. The wines have received glowing reviews from connoisseurs, thus making the state one of the most recognized Pinot-Noir-producing areas across the world. Aside from the world-famous Pinot Noir of Oregon, you also have a host of other wines from the region such as:

  • Riesling
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Gamay noir
  • Muller-Thurgau
  • Cabernet franc
  • Nebbiolo
  • Malbec
  • Black Muscat
  • Baco noir
  • Chenin blanc
  • Petite Syrah
  • Dolcetto
  • Viognier
  • Tempranillo
  • Syrah
  • Merlot
  • Semillon
  • Marechal Foch

In addition to these, the region also produces late harvest wine, sparkling wine, dessert wine, and fruit wine.

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Oregon Wine @menagerie_pourers

Wine regions in Oregon

In the state, wine is produced in three main regions that can be said to not overlap. These are the regions recognized as part of the American Viticulture Areas. Southern Oregon and Willamette Valley are in the state of Oregon. The third, which is the Columbia River, is shared with the state of Washington even though the whole territory is included in Oregon AVA.

Vineyards and wineries that you should visit

There is a lot of history attached to Oregon wine, and there is no better way to learn about it than to visit the wineries in this beautiful wine region. Several significant wineries can give you a perfect picture of the wine country in the state.

The Honey Winery in Willamette Valley is a great place to start. Here, you get to see some of the oldest technology used in winemaking at this winery, which was opened in 1934. Next up would be the Eyrie Vineyards. The winery is situated in McMinnville, while the vineyards are located in the Dundee hills. Take a visit to the winery and see what it takes to make the Pinot Noir that has put Oregon on the map. The process used by David Lett for the very first signature Pinot Noir of Oregon has been preserved, and you will get to see it firsthand.

The Tumwater Vineyard is yet another that every wine tourist coming to Oregon should visit before they leave. Look out for events at the vineyard, which hosts a lot of wine events and all sorts of activities for budding connoisseurs. The whole complex includes a vineyard covering 23 acres as well as a tasting room and an event venue for all types of wine-related occasions. The vineyard also has a menu of fine wines that is a collection of 9 of the best vintages from the state.

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Willamette Valley Wine Country @madwineparty

Quality certification for Oregon wine

There are many wine-producing regions across the world, each with an appellation that is unique in its way. To find the best among wine varieties, the wines are tasted with the best vintages in each style recognized and awarded. Oregon wines have won such accolades several times, bagging some significant awards in winemaking circles. The wines have won awards in the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, where Eyrie Vineyard’s Pinot Noir was rated as the best in its class. The wines have also won Ernest Reuter, the maker of Forest Grove wine, a silver medal at the St. Luis World’s Fair. In the 1982 edition of the International Wine Competition, which was held in London, the wines bagged two gold medals.

Wine Spectator has also recognized the wines, giving the Pinot Noir third place in the 2015 edition of the top 100 wines for the year.

Vinitourism in the state

The region has such a reputation when it comes to winemaking, and this translates into a thriving industry in vinitourism. The industry has grown to become a significant part of the economy, raking in USD $207.5 million in 2013. Businesses such as art galleries, restaurants, lodgings, and anything else that would cater to wine enthusiasts visiting the place, enjoy good business year-round. Wine tasting and wine festivals are some of the main events that feature in the tourism calendar, and they attract wine lovers from all over the Union and the rest of the world as well.

Through the year, wineries in the state receive about 1.8 million visits, and 59% of these are from the locals themselves, while 41% are from visitors from outside the state. The International Pinot Noir Celebration is one of the longest-running events in the vino-tourism calendar. The event happens on the last weekend of July every year and has been held on this day since 1987. This, as well as the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration, which is a more recent event, are two of the most popular occasions when it comes to wine-themed events. The Oregon Wine Experience has also been running for 15 years now and always attracts large attendances.

Aside from the enormous economic boost that it brings to the state, the prosperous nature of Oregon enotourism has also encouraged the development of transport infrastructure. The industry has additionally bolstered the patronage at the casino at the Willamette Valley, which is one of the prime spots for wine tourists visiting the wine country.

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Willamette Valley Wine Country @l_and_thetraveling_chi

New York Wine, Wineries, and Wine Country

New York is the third-largest producer of wine among the states. California and Washington are the two states that come before New York when it comes to grape production. Much of the grape-growing regions in the state have a variety known as Vitis Labrusca. This covers over 80% of the territory used for grape cultivation, with the other half divided almost equal between French hybrids and Vitis Vinifera. 

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New York Winery @benmarlwinery

Wine regions in New York

The region has grown immensely if we are talking wineries. In the mid-’70s, when the area was only starting as a commercial wine producer, there were only 13 wineries in the whole state. These grew to 63 by 1985, and the number has grown to 212 in the present day.

The state, which has now become one of the major wine producers in the union, has four recognized regions where wine production takes place. These include the Finger Lakes AVA located on the west-central side of the state. The region around the Hudson River is also an AVA area situated in the eastern regions of the state. On the very end of the eastern regions, you also have the Long Island AVA. The last AVA area is the Lake Erie region on the western side of the state.

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New York Winery @benmarlwinery

Climates and soil

The climates in the different wine cultivation areas vary very significantly and are mostly influenced by the Atlantic Gulf Stream as well as the many water bodies and mountainous landforms in the state.

In the Finger Lake and Lake Erie regions, the growing season goes on about 180 to 200 days. The period is a bit extended to 220 days in the Long Island region, where the humidity is much higher than the other regions. This causes the fall rains to be a bit higher as well in these regions.

The soils in these regions originate from glacial progression, which caused the soils to be composed of shale and gravel. From this, the Finger Lakes regions inhabit heavy clay soils, and the Long Island regions received sandy soil deposits.

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New York Winery @benmarlwinery

Virginia Wines, Wineries and Wine Country

The state of Virginia has been producing wine since the colonial days in the 17th century. Though the state has had wine production knowledge for quite a long period, commercial production did not commence until just 20 or so years ago. This is mainly because of the technological challenges that made it hard to do any meaningful viticulture in the hot and humid summers that are characteristic of Virginia.

75% of the grape production in the state is Vitis ViniferaOf the remainder, 20% is covered by French hybrids, while American grape varieties cover about 5% of the rest of the wine country. By 2012 the state had five most famous varieties growing, including; Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay.

The whole region had 2,600 acres dedicated to grape cultivation, with the amount of total harvest reaching 6500 tons. This places Virginia among the top five states with the highest grape production and acreage used for wine production. Most of this produce comes from the counties located in the northern parts of the state, especially around the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Virginia Wine @pkozakos

Virginia wine as an industry

Since the 1980s, many organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, have come up in the production of wine. The Virginia Vineyards Association is one of the most notable ones. The other most known organization is the Virginia Wineries Association.

The state has played a key role in the wine-growing industry. They are going as far as establishing a wine distributor managed by the state known as the Virginia Winery Distribution Company. This was the brainchild of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The distributor was created to make supply logistics feasible for smaller wineries that make good wine but lack the means to have it distributed. Many of the wineries in the state are too small. The move came as a godsend to the whole industry.

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Virginia Grapes @its_ya_boy_slim

Texas Wine, Wineries and Wine Country

The wine made in the state has been compared to Portuguese wine. The reason is due to the dry and sunny weather that is common in the area. When it comes to wine production, the state has been active for many years and thus has a storied past. The very first records of wine production in the state date back to the 1600s when missionaries visited the place.

The Spanish missionaries fed into the winemaking techniques that have inspired comparisons to wine styles from Spain, Italy, and France. As of 2019, the state was ranked fifth in terms of wine production in the whole country.

Most of the grape varieties grown in the state come from the Vitis family, and 15 of these happen to be home-grown varieties from the state. With so many native varieties among the grape types grown in the state, it is the wine-growing region with the most indigenous breeds in the world. Additionally, the expansion plans that are always going on have established it as one of the leading wine producers in the country.

Texas wine country, climate, and geography

There are three main wine-growing places in the region with microclimates that vary as much as you would expect of two distinct wine-growing regions. This means that the state can grow a much wider variety of wine grapes.

The North-Central Region covers a third of the northern front. The growing area starts at the state’s border with New Mexico, moving across the Texas Panhandle and ending towards Dallas. The area includes the AVA area in the Texas High Plains, which holds the most significant number of growers in the whole state.

On the eastern third of the state is the South-Eastern Region. The area covers acreage in Austin and San Antonio, as well as Houston. The area has suffered a massive attack by Pierce’s Disease. Due to the high humidity in the northern areas, the growth of Vinifera grapes is quite troublesome. Vines such as Blanc du Bois, Muscadine, and Black Spanish do well in these areas since they are resistant to the disease. Vinifera can, however, be grown in the Texas Hill Country AVA, which is somewhat centrally placed on the wine-growing region. On the southwest end of the region is the Val Verde Winery, which is the oldest in the country and should make for some exciting sightseeing when you visit these areas. The winery has been open for more than a century.

On a third of the state lying on the central-western region is the Trans-Pecos Regions. This area produces about 40% of the grape coming from vineyards in high altitude areas. Over two-thirds of the total wine production from the state comes from this region.

Soil and Elevation

The soil in the Texas High Plains has a red, sandy, and loamy character. The soil is known as Tiera Roja. It is a type of soil that is calcareous, with the fertility levels being moderate.

Elevation in these areas is quite high at 3500ft above sea level. Due to this, the vines growing in these regions are exposed to long hours of sunshine and cold nights. In the winter months, the vines can go on a dormant state awaiting the growing season. The aquifer at Ogallala is useful for irrigation water and also serves to control temperatures when the summer temperatures rise too high. It also serves a handy purpose in this same respect during the cold months when the temperatures are freezing, and the hail is coming down heavy. As the area is a plain, the constant winds blowing over the terrain make it easier to deal with plant diseases such as powdery mildew and oidium, which are the two most notorious problems when it comes to viticulture.

The harvest in Texas starts in July. This comes two months earlier than the harvest period in California and three months earlier than most of the regions in France. During this time, the vineyards are quite busy as there are some 4,541 acres of the crop to be harvested.

Wines from Texas

The state is known for its production of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are the two most planted grapes in all regions in the state. Other wines produced here include; Blanc du Bois, Merlot, Viognier, Black Spanish, Muscat Canelli, Mourvedre, Malbec, and Sangiovese. These are just some of the leading wines produced in the state as the federal Department of Agriculture – National Agriculture Statistics found there are 53 wines in total produced in the state.

In the last ten years or so, the Gulf Coast, Southeast, and North Texas are three growing areas that have increased their production of Black Spanish and Blanc du Bois. These do much better than other grape varieties in the humid climates of the state, which supersede the standard rate of humidity for viticulture by a substantial range.

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Texas wine @saycheesehoney

Wine appellations from the state

Texas boasts eight of the official American Viticulture Areas, which places it right up there with the best wine producers in the world. Some of the appellations you can expect to find from this region include;

  • Bell Mountain AVA – Comes from central Texas. Famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, the area was the first to have an AVA native to the state. Cultivation is done in the northern areas of Gillespie County.
  • Mesilla Valley AVA – Originates from West Texas. This was the first appellation given to the state even though most of it comes from the border with New Mexico, with a tiny part located in the state.
  • Texas Hill Country AVA – Planted mostly in central Texas. The region is close to Austin and is the second-largest appellation in the country, with 9,000,000 acres and overused to plant the grapevines.
  • Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country AVA – Grown in central Texas and is famous for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Escondido Valley AVA – Grown in West Texas. Covers an area of 32,000 acres in Pecos County along the Pecos River.
  • Texoma AVA – Comes from North Texas. In the 19th century, Thomas Volney Munson found out how to treat the phylloxera epidemic that attacks French varieties.
  • Texas Davis Mountains AVA – Originates from North Texas. The AVA was granted only one winery producing the wine back in 1998. The AVA is known for its production of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wineries to visit in the state of Texas

If you are planning a trip to the wine country in the state, then you have your itinerary cut out, with 400 wineries in the state. One of the most extensive vineyards in the state and what should be your first stop are the MesaVineyards, which cover 500 acres. The winery is located in West Texas in the area near Fort Stockton. It was established as a trial project by the University of Texas in the year 1987. The winery has since been producing wine branded Ste. Genevieve.

The Llano Estacado Winery is the second largest in the state. The winery, like most wineries in the state, offers wine tasting for visiting wine tourists. You could have a lot of fun visiting the wineries with lots of fun activities and comprehensive tours of the grounds. Aside from the standard wine tastings, you are also likely to find a winery hosting a special wine tasting where the experience includes food pairings and many other exciting activities. According to Wine Enthusiast magazine, the wine country in Texas ranks among the top destinations for wine lovers interested in wine tourism.

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Texas wine @gabsalexx

Ohio Wines, Wineries and Wine Country

Ohio wine is mostly made from grapes of the Vitis Labrusca species, which are native to the United States. Though this was the traditional way of growing grapes in the state, French hybrids and European varieties are now cultivated in. In 2018, the number of commercial wineries in the state had reached 280. Of these, five are recognized as American Viticulture Areas. Among the five, some are located wholly in the state while others have territories shared by neighboring states.

Since 1823, the state of Ohio has been producing wine after Nicholas Longworth planted the first vines. By 1825, Longworth had introduced Catabawa grapes in the region, and soon, they spread across the state. When 1860 came around, the state was the biggest importer of the grape variety. During this time, the state was the leading wine producer in the country.

With Ohio as the leading state in wine production, Cincinnati became the main trading point in the wine industry of the time. This was brought to an abrupt end by the prohibition era, which destroyed the thriving industry. After prohibition, Ohio struggled to return to its old glory but was never able to get back to the old times. Though the state was thrown off the mantle of being the top producer, it has managed to claw its way back to the top six largest wine producers in the country.

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Ohio winery @buckeyelakewinery

Sub-regions producing wine in the state

As the sixth-largest wine producer in the country, the state has a considerable acreage of land dedicated to grape cultivation. The total area of cultivation covers 44,825 miles (116, 096km2). The regions that make up the land area include;

  • Ohio River Valley AVA
  • Grand River Valley AVA
  • Lake Erie AVA
  • Loramie Creek AVA
  • Isle St. George AVA
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Ohio winery @buckeyelakewinery

Grape production in Ohio

The state has many grape varieties produced across the state. The most notable wines made in the state include Cabernet Franc, Catabawa, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are many other wines made in smaller volumes such as Chardonnay Concord, Chancellor, Chambourcin, La Crosse, Marechal Foch, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Marquette, Delaware, Niagara, St. Pepin, and Vidal Blanc among many others.

The wine industry in Ohio

The wineries in this part of the country work together under the Ohio Wine Producers Association. On their online pages, the association offer resources useful to both consumers and producers. The site also includes a comprehensive calendar outlining all the wine events in the state. This is where to find out where to start your wine tour of the state. You will also find the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame listing of all the great contributors to the wine industry from the state.

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Ohio winery @buckeyelakewinery

Michigan Wines, Wineries and Wine Country

The state of Michigan has one of the most exciting enotourism industries among the wine-growing regions in the country, bringing in $300 million in a year. As of 2018, 3,050 acres of land was set apart for wine production, with 148 wineries set up for commercial purposes. The state not only produces grape wine but is also known for excellent fruit wines, such as cherry wine.

The industry in these parts of the country only took off after the prohibition period, at which time the most planted vines in the state were Concord. At this time, all of the wine produced in the state came from just four wineries.

Many of the wineries in the state were centered on the production of fruit wine into the mid and late 1970s. At the advent of the 20th century, wine drinkers wanted more American brands of fine wines on liquor store shelves. This prompted a change in production to more wine varieties with higher quality. This was also followed by the arrival of new vintners into the scene. The increase of wineries in the state also occurred in the early years of the 2000s. The improvement in the industry continues today as growers are experimenting with new hybrid varieties that do well in the Upper Peninsula. This growth is projected to keep progressing into the next few years or more.

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Michigan grapes @marivineyards

Wine regions in Michigan

The state has five AVA regions, which are very similar in characteristics. These are Lake Michigan Shore, Fennville, Leelanau Peninsula, Tip of the Mitt, and Old Mission Peninsula. All of these are located close to one another near Lake Michigan.

The presence of the lake creates a microclimate that is favorable and resembles the inner regions of the state. In the North, the growing season goes on for 145 days, while in the South, the growing season lasts for 160 days.

The Great Traverse City area is one of the leading wine-producing regions in Michigan. The area includes Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas. The sandy soil is suitable for drainage, and the climate, which is dominated by lake-climate characteristics, allows for a longer growing period.

Variety of grapes grown in the state

Many of the grapes in these areas are mainly focused on table beverages such as grape and jelly juice. In 2005, almost half of the grape production in the state was used for this purpose. Even though this is the tradition, more vinifera grapes are used to make wine today. Some of the European wine varieties grown in the state include Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer.

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Michigan wine @marivineyards

Special wines

There is a wide range of fruit-flavored wines in the U.S, and Michigan happens to be the leading producer of fermented wine of this kind. Two of the most popular fruit wines in this region include cherry and apple wine. There are other fruit wines made in the state, such as spice cherry wine and different types of cherry blends.

Wine events in the state

There are several main events in the wine calendar. Many of the 148 wineries do well to take part in the events.

Great Lakes Wine Festival

The event started in 2010 at the Michigan International Speedway and goes on for three days in the last week of May. It attracts wineries and breweries in the state, and as many as 40 wineries attend the event on average. The event attendees have the chance to taste wine from the state as well as sample food pairings. Festival-goers are provided with camping facilities so that they can stay for the whole of the festival.

Blossom Days

This is the cherry festival for the Traverse City region. Opened in 1925, it is the longest-running wine event in the state. The event was initially held in early May when tourists could see the cherry blossoms in their full glory. The event was moved due to a change in the legislature and moved to summer. It is an event that runs for two days with an interdenominational blessing of the cherry blossoms in preparation for the coming growing season. Here, tourists can learn about the rich history behind the event as well as the state and the wine-growing industry. The food and accompaniments for the event are drawn from all across the state. Visitors enjoy different foods on display. The whole affair is meant to be a fun day out for the entire family.

Ultimate US Wine Country Guide
Michigan winery @marivineyards

American wine has a rich heritage

There is a lot to find out about the wine-growing exploits of the famous pioneering wineries across the country. As a wine lover, you can pay a visit to some of these areas and see for yourself what culture lies in the American wine industry. Aside from the sightseeing opportunities, you are bound to fall more in love with American wine.


Do you live in any of the states mentioned above? What’s your favorite locally-made wine? Share your favorites below in the comments section!

For some more wine-knowledge-enhancing articles, check these out from Wine on My Time: Famous International Red Wine Brands You Want to Check Out, Ultimate Guide to Serving Wine Like a Pro, or Best Wines To Make Sangria With (Red & White).

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