American-made wine is considered New World wine and is labeled based on the grape varietal used to make it. Old World Wines, like those produced in France and Italy, are named for the region in which they are made.
Here are some grapes commonly grown in the U.S. and used to produced American-made wine. Many U.S. wines are made by blending the various types of grapes.
This dark grape grows well in cooler regions like the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It’s a highly-cultivated grape in Sonoma County, California. Used to create red wines, the Pinot noir grape is an ancient grape variety, formally cultivated in the Burgandy region of France.
The second most planted grape in Napa Valley, this green-skinned grape is used to make white wines. Because it can express a variety of different flavors and aromas based on the techniques used to make the wines, Chardonnays can be fresh and crisp or buttery and rich.
This red grape was the center of a wine mystery for centuries. People theorized the grape may have been derived from wild grape vines in France. Others believed it was a subset of a grape cultivated by the Romans in the First Century. A California geneticist solved the mystery in 1996; the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a cross between the Cabernet Fran and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, which were likely crossed in the 17 Century! Today it’s one of the world’s most recognized grape varieties, grown throughout California and the Pacific Northwest, where they typically produce full-bodied wines.
The Pinot grigio or gris is a variant of Pinot noir grapes. The “gris” or “grigio” is French of gray, as these grapes can have a grayish-blue hue. Though used to create white wines, these grapes can vary widely in color. Pinot grigio grapes grown in the U.S. tend to produce light to moderate acidity and higher alcohol levels.
Merlot grapes create both hearty, full-bodied wines and lighter red wines. Known for aromas of cherry and earthiness, Napa Valley wineries have been cultivating this dark grape since the 1970s. Vintners typically craft dry red wine from Merlot grapes.
Vivid aromas and distinctive acidity mark this international white grape variety. Its wines often present a fruity scent. When aged in Oak barrels, the Sauvignon blanc grape produces a layered flavor, while fermenting in steel barrels or other neutral vessels allows the grape’s fresh and bright character to really shine.
This white grape is grown prodigiously in the Rhine region of Germany. California growers also cultivate these stunners. Known for its bright, almost perfume-y aroma, it boasts high acidity, and is regularly used to create dry white wine as well as semi-sweet, sweet, and even sparkling wines.
A deep, black grape commonly blended with Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, it produces bright, pale red wines.
These black-skinned grape covers about 10 percent of California’s grape-producing acreage. This sugary grape lends itself to creating wines with higher alcohol content. Though the grapes can be used to create robust red wines, it is also used to create very popular semi-sweet rosé, known as White Zinfandel.
Once upon a time, wine lovers were stereotyped as stuffy, rule followers, but modern wine enthusiasts are throwing out the rules. They’re enjoying wine in a variety of settings, from front porch sitting to cocktail parties and everything in between. Wine isn’t just for formal settings anymore! It’s for every day and every occasion.
The wine lover movement has arrived. In 1970, there were only 440 wineries in the U.S. That number has exploded in the last 40 years! According to Wine & Vine Magazine, there are now more than 8,391 wineries in the country. Though the U.S. imports a lot of wine from places like France and Italy, we make a lot of it here ourselves, too! Roughly 60 percent of U.S. wines are produced in California, though there are wineries in all 50 states!
There are a lot of American wines to taste. So join the wine lovers movement and get busy today!