American Wine: Late to the Game, but Quick to Catch Up

Although some of most well-known wine regions of America have been making wines since the 1800’s, that’s not all that impressive in the face of European countries that have been major producers for hundreds of years.

That being said, however, the USA made the leap to being one of the world’s best producers pretty quickly given the humble beginnings of its wine industry. Not to mention that wine production in the USA came to a screeching halt with the enactment of Prohibition in 1920 and took several decades to recover.

It wasn’t until 1976 and the famous “Judgment of Paris” that American, and specifically, California wines became the top contenders on the world stage that they are today. During that fateful event, California wines were scored higher and declared better than some of the most famous French wines in a blind tasting held in Paris.

Once American wine started to be taken seriously, wine makers realized that they needed a system of classification and labeling that they could use to identify their wine in a rapidly expanding marketplace. In 1980 the Americans came up with a system based on AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas

Most European appellations have obscure factors like rank, wine-making techniques, and crop yield built in; American AVA’s however are used only to signify the location in which the grapes are grown. For most AVA’s the only qualification necessary is that 85% of the grapes used to produce the wine were grown within the bounds of that AVA.