A brief history of the vineyard
Viticulture appeared in the United States during the 16th century, when settlers from Europe tried to cultivate vines on the soil of the New World.
At the time, there were already many indigenous varieties of vines. But the European settlers rather planted vines they knew, and Vitis vinifera soon became the most common grape variety.
The Gold Rush and the discovery of California, with its favorable climate made it easier to start a stable wine production.
During the 19th century, the first wine estates appeared in the future Napa Valley, Northern California.
In 1889, American production was recognized at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.
Unfortunately, many dark events happened during the 20th century. In fact, the phylloxera crisis, the advent of prohibition, the economic crisis of 1929 and the war clearly slowed down American production.
In the 1990s, the Phylloxera aphid mutated and the vines did not resist this disaster.
But the Californian winegrowers, far from being discouraged, took the opportunity to replant vines on new bases, taking into account the latest oenological standards.
It is interesting to see how American wine reflects the image of its country, as it was developed without the constraint of ancestral or family uses, thanks to modern winemaking techniques and a spirit of innovation.
Today, more and more small producers sell wines on the market.
In 2020, there were 4714 vineyards producing less than 1000 cases of wine.
And these smaller producers tend to improve the quality of American wine production.
Extent of the vineyard
Today, the American vineyards extend over more than 450 thousand hectares ; and the United States is the fifth country in terms of wine-growing area, with wines coming from all of the American states.
The main wine regions are
Some states or regions stand out, by the scale or the quality of their wine production.
This is particularly the case of Oregon, Washington and New York State.
But it is above all California, with a great boom in viticulture in the 19th century, which is the biggest wine growing region. It alone represents 90% of the production of wines in the United States. Indeed, The Golden State counts among its regions of importance the Central Valley, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and the Central Coast, along the Pacific Ocean.
Typical grape varieties and wines
In the United States, the most cultivated red grape varieties are Cabernet-Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc as well as Carignan, Grenache, Petite Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Among the white grape varieties, there are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Colombard, Marsanne, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Roussanne, Sémillon and Viognier.
But it is the Zinfandel that embodies the typicality of the Californian terroir.
It alone covers 10% of the Californian vineyard and is vinified in white wine, rosé and red wine. And it is in the red wines of the arid regions of the Sonoma Valley that it best reveals its tannic potential and its aromas of red fruits and spices.