Celebrating the American Wine Revolution

This July 4th, spark vinous fireworks by opening one of these domestic classics.
Wollersheim Winery, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin

Here at Wine Enthusiast, it’s sometimes easy to overlook wines that are grown in our own backyards. After all, we receive thousands of samples from dozens of countries every year.

But domestic wines continue to account for nearly two-thirds of all consumption in the United States. So what better to drink during the month we celebrate independence than American wines?

Start with something from New York State, home to U.S. Bonded Wineries No. 1 (Pleasant Valley Wine Company, in the Finger Lakes) and No. 2 (Brotherhood Winery, in the Hudson Valley). Both are historic and still in operation, but more notable are the wines from Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellar.

A Ukrainian by birth, Frank pioneered the planting of Vitis vinifera (European wine grapes) in the Finger Lakes, forever changing the face of viticulture there. Today, his grandson, Fred Frank, oversees the winery, which produces especially notable aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner and the rare Rkatsiteli.

An All-American Shortlist

Boordy Vineyards (Maryland)

Dr. Konstantin Frank (New York)

Hanzell (Sonoma)

Heitz Cellar (Napa)

La Garagiste (Vermont)

Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard (Rhode Island)

Stony Hill Vineyard (Napa)

Wollersheim Winery (Wisconsin)

Staying in the original 13 colonies, explore the sparkling blanc de blancs from Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard in Rhode Island, the French-American hybrid wines from La Garagista in Vermont and the surprising Bordeaux-style blends from Boordy Vineyards, the oldest winery in Maryland. For Virginia suggestions, see our guide.

From there, head west. Follow the route of Agoston Haraszthy, the Hungarian immigrant who would later bring hundreds of European grape varieties to California and founded Buena Vista Winery. Before Haraszthy got to California, he stopped in Wisconsin, where he planted grapes overlooking the Wisconsin River in 1847.

Though he moved on within a couple of years, that property is now Wollersheim Winery, a leader among Midwestern wineries. Although Beaujolais-born winemaker Philippe Coquard sources some fruit from other parts of the United States, the winery’s flagship remains its Domaine Reserve, an old-vine rendering of Marechal Foch from the steepest parts of the estate vineyard.

California classics include too many wineries to mention, but some of my old-school favorites include Hanzell (founded in 1957), Heitz Cellar (1961) and Stony Hill (1952). At the risk of sounding cliché, they remain authentic expressions of California wines as they used to be.

This year, on our country’s 240th birthday, enjoy the parade and fireworks, and join me in raising a glass filled with one of these nowhere-but-in-America wines.

 

Published on July 1, 2016
Topics: American Wines
About the Author
Joe Czerwinski

Czerwinski has been a wine journalist, editor and taster for over a decade and is a regular wine panelist, speaker and educator for events and organizations worldwide.




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