If you find the notion of wines from the American Southwest perplexing, you aren\u2019t alone. The arid, topographically diverse states of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, are still considered \u201cup-and-coming\u201d as far as wine production is concerned. This is despite grapes having been turned into wine there for decades.\r\n\r\nThirsty for more? Here\u2019s your primer on the wines of the Southwest.\r\n\r\n\r\nArizona\r\nArizona and its range of microclimates are divided into three main regions, two of which are American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): Verde Valley, Sonoita AVA and Willcox AVA. The majority of the state\u2019s vineyards are in Sonoita and Willcox, close to Tucson. Sonoita is the older of the two AVAs, established in 1985, while Willcox earned its designation in 2016. Both are home to many of the state\u2019s 100-plus wineries.\r\n\r\nWinemaking has a long and storied history in Arizona. In the early 1700s, Eusebio Francisco Kino, an Italian Jesuit missionary, grew grapes for wine. But it was not until the 1970s that Arizona\u2019s wine culture took off. Dr. Gordon Dutt, a scientist from the University of Arizona, began to conduct experiments to prove the state\u2019s suitability for winemaking. He later established Vina Sonoita Vineyards, the state\u2019s first modern winery.\r\n\r\nDutt discovered that Arizona possesses the same unique terra rossa soil, a loamy surface with red clay in the middle and lime on the bottom, as France\u2019s Burgundy region. This makes Arizona well suited for terroir-driven winemaking.\r\n\r\nWinemakers like Matt Raica, of Arizona Stronghold, have been successful in grape growing for more than a decade. They plant numerous varieties and harvest them in the state, including such diverse grapes as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Syrah, Riesling, Mourv\u00e8dre, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The winery, at around 4,000 feet above sea level, is right outside of Sedona.\r\n\r\n\r\nTexas\r\nOne of the United States\u2019 oldest wine growing regions, wine production in Texas predates California. Franciscan priests were responsible for the state\u2019s first vines in the mid-1600s, which were used to create wines for religious ceremonies.\r\n\r\nWine production lost favor here as a result of Prohibition, but it enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970s in the Texas High Plains AVA.\r\n\r\nToday, the state has eight AVAs. The Texas High Plains AVA, in northwest Texas, is the most concentrated and grows 85% of all the wine grapes in the state. In part, this is because the southern part of Texas has suffered from both the grapevine-killer Pierce\u2019s Disease and crippling humidity in recent years.\r\n\r\nIn the Texas High Plains AVA, the family-owned Lost Draw Cellars, located in Fredericksburg, has produced wine since 2014, with a focus on varietal wines.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nYears earlier, in 2008, partners William Blackmon and Chris Brundrett opened William Chris Vineyards, right outside of Fredericksburg. The winery both grows and sources fruit from vineyards in the state, and has become an enormously popular, critical success.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re passionate about producing wines that express the vineyards and terroir of Texas,\u201d says Brundrett. \u201cWe strive to work with the best growers in the state, as well [as] farm the best grapes that are soulful and intentional. Great winegrowing is the key to achieving our style of low-impact, low-intervention winemaking.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the Texas High Plains AVA, sandy loam and limestone dominate, as do sunny days and cool nights. Because of the warm climate, the harvest begins in July, months earlier than most other American and Old World appellations. But, because of the state\u2019s vastness, climate and soil type differ dramatically by region.\r\n\r\nThe eight AVAs of Texas include Bell Mountain, Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country, Texas Hill Country as well as Escondido Valley, Texas High Plains, Texas Davis Mountains, Texoma and Mesilla Valley, which is mostly in New Mexico.\r\n\r\nThere are more than 400 wineries that operate in Texas, with wine produced from grapes that include Sauvignon Blanc, S\u00e9millon, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot.\r\n\r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\nWine has been produced here since at least 1629, when Garc\u00eda de Z\u00fa\u00f1iga, a Franciscan friar, and Antonio de Arteaga, a Capuch\u00edn monk, planted grapes in Santa Fe. There are currently three AVAs: Middle Rio Grande Valley, Mesilla Valley AVA (which runs into Texas) and Mimbres Valley.\r\n\r\nDuring the late 1800s, New Mexico produced almost 1 million gallons of wine. Those numbers declined after flooding from the Rio Grande destroyed neighboring vineyards.\r\n\r\nSince then, the wine scene has had its ups and downs, but experienced a resurgence in the late 1970s when La Vi\u00f1a Winery debuted. It\u2019s now the oldest continuously operating winery in the state, followed by La Chiripada Winery.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSome of the most influential people in New Mexico, however, came to the state from France during the mid-1980s.\r\n\r\nHerv\u00e9 Lescombes arrived from Burgundy and founded St. Clair Winery in 1984. The same year, Gilbert Gruet established Gruet Winery, in north-central New Mexico, near Albuquerque. It produces traditional-method sparkling wines from Champagne varieties.\r\n\r\nToday, New Mexico is also home to well-received wineries like Viv\u00e1c. Under the guidance of Chris, Liliana, Jesse and Michele Padberg, it has produced wines at high-elevation vineyards since 1998.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur winemakers were born and raised in northern New Mexico, where they chose to return,\u201d says Michele Padberg. \u201cThey have dedicated themselves to researching varietals that can thrive at our arid, 6,000-foot altitude, and have had excellent success with Petit Verdot, Gr\u00fcner Veltliner and Riesling.\u201d\r\n\r\nA little more than a decade after Viv\u00e1c debuted, Noisy Water Winery opened, also at high elevation. Noisy Water is now planted to 75 acres of Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery is located about three hours southeast of Gruet.\r\n\r\nImportant grapes planted in New Mexico include Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.\r\n\r\n\r\nColorado, Oklahoma and Utah\r\nThese three states produce considerably less wine than their Southwestern neighbors.\r\n\r\nColorado has two designated AVAs: Grand Valley and West Elks, which are home to the majority of the state\u2019s vines. Colorado has some of the world\u2019s highest-elevation vineyards. With more than 170 wineries, the state has expanded its reach in wine production. Common grapes grown include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay and Riesling.\r\n\r\nOklahoma\u2019s wine trade began in the 1920s, but it suffered considerably due to the Dust Bowl and Prohibition. The state is currently home to only about 50 wineries. Its sole AVA is Ozark Mountain, which extends into Arkansas and Missouri. Grapes grown in Oklahoma include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gew\u00fcrztraminer.\r\n\r\nDespite the state\u2019s teetotaler fame, Utah has had grapevines since the late 1800s. The industry, however, didn\u2019t take off until the 1980s, when winemakers began take advantage of the state\u2019s elevation and cool, dry climate. Utah has no AVAs, and winemaking is still considered a nascent industry there.