The wines of the USA
Since the first cuttings arrived in Virginia in 1619, vines have spread their roots to all 50 states but one state represents four-fifths of the country’s wine production: California. The Golden State is the beating heart of the US wine scene, followed a distant second and third by Washington and Oregon.
The California fine wine scene has been dominated by the Napa Valley for more than half a century, thanks to its opulent Cabernet Sauvignon and creamy Chardonnay. Its potential for greatness was recognised beyond US shores in 1976 in the now famous Judgement of Paris, a blind wine tasting pitting the best of France against the best of California. California’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars took the red title ahead of Bordeaux First Growths Châteaux Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion while the likes of Roulot, Drouhin and Leflaive were beaten to the top Chardonnay spot by Chateau Montelena. The Californians have never looked back.
Napa’s proximity to the city of San Francisco, which has become increasingly wealthy thanks to the arrival of tech industries, has long proved a boon for the valley, luring tourists and investors alike. The area also invites benevolent cooling fogs off the Pacific Ocean, acting as an air conditioner for these otherwise warm regions.
Heading south from San Francisco, Ridge's Monte Bello, which has been called America’s First Growth, is situated high in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and also benefits from the cooling influence of the Pacific.
Crossing California’s northern border, Oregon has become a go-to for Pinot Noir lovers with investment from the likes of Burgundy’s Joseph Drouhin (Domaine Drouhin) and Louis Jadot (Résonance) providing the ultimate seal of approval.
Sandwiched between Oregon and the border with Canada, Washington State is a vast and diverse wine-growing region making everything from Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon.