American wine is coming of age, far beyond Napa Valley. A few decades ago most vineyards outside California, Washington, and Oregon grew hardy but undistinguished native grapes and hybrids, but today Vitis vinifera, the European species that is the standard for serious winemaking, has taken hold across the country. Wine is made in all fifty states, but a few regions are revealing themselves to be extraordinarily well suited to specific vinifera varieties. In New York’s Finger Lakes, at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, the vine nursery—a barn full of infant plants blanketed in peat moss—feels like an incubator for the future of American wine. “In early March, vines go to North Carolina and Texas, and we release some to coastal Virginia,” says Wiemer winemaker and viticulturalist Fred Merwarth. “Virginia is planting like crazy, Pennsylvania is planting like crazy. Ohio, Michigan, Missouri…” Merwarth’s nursery clients number upwards of 1,500; less than two percent of them are located on the West Coast. Traveling to the wineries in up-and-coming regions is a fascinating way to experience the wide-ranging beauty of the American landscape. Even without leaving home, you can taste the different terrains, the particulars of soil and weather, in the wines themselves. Click the links below for some of our favorite bottles (in current vintages) from the best emerging regions—every one an apt choice for the Thanksgiving table and a tribute to America the beautiful.
37 Great American Wines
Nowadays, our favorite bottles don't only come from the West Coast