Grapes are the highest-value fruit crop in the United States with a collective value estimated at $5 billion. Muscadine grapes were brought to the United States by the second wave of Spanish and French settlers, though early efforts were quashed by the native root louse phyloxera. It was this same pest that thwarted Thomas Jefferson’s attempt to start vineyards in Virginia during the late 1700s. Later, generations of vineyards used imported Concord and Niagara grapes along with hybrids that were less susceptible to pests. Though early vineyards started on the East Coast, Sonoma and Napa Valley in California would eventually become established as the premiere American wine regions.
We produce 22.5 million liters of wine annually. We are surpassed by Spain, France, and Italy at number one, with 44.8 million liters.
Winemaking exists on massive national scales as a result of the agricultural innovations of antiquity. The Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans were the empires responsible for the spread of these practices throughout the regions forming modern Europe. Italy, with its profound ties to the ancient empires, continues to be the world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of wine. There are more than 2,000 naturally-occurring grape varieties in Italy that lead to the most diverse array of vineyards in the world, producing over 2,400 different styles of wine. The end products are ranked by the government-founded classification of Denominazioen di orgine controlla (DOC), inspired by the French Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC). It’s perhaps fair to say that both nations take their winemaking seriously. The “Tre Venezie” comprises the Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia — Italy’s premiere wine-producing regions.
Having visited many wine growing regions in the world, I still prefer California wines. I just do not care for their cost structure, resulting in higher prices for consumers. If you are looking for bargains, I might suggest both Chile and Argentina for excellent, well-priced red wines.