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All States have wineries, and the best States have the most

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Kudos to the New York Times (and to Eric Asimov, if he had anything to do with it), for this superb interactive map showing how the number of wineries has spread across America from 1937 to the present. If you hover the cursor over any one state, it tells you the number of wineries in it.

(I hope the Times link works without you having to buy an account and sign in. If it doesn’t, try this link.)

It was eleven years ago, in 2002, that North Dakota became the fiftieth, and final, U.S. state to have a winery. Today there are more than eight thousand in all fifty states, scattered from northern Maine to south Florida, eastern North Carolina to Texas, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Arizona, and, of course, from southern California on up to the Washington-Canadian border.

On the map, wineries are depicted by blemish-like rose-colored circles, with the biggest circles signifying 500 wineries; and the most, and biggest, circles are right here in the Bay Area and Northern California. The Central Coast of California also has some big circles, as do Washington State and Oregon, the Finger Lakes and Long Island regions of New York State, and the Alleghenies, mainly Virginia. Texas, too, is getting blotchy, as is Colorado, especially along the Front Range. If there’s a viticultural desert in this country, it’s the Great Plains, where Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas (but, surprisingly, not Oklahoma) are remarkably blemish free, as are Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Montana. Whether this is due to issues of terroir or culture (either or both of which may be unsuitable to the development of an indigenous wine industry), I couldn’t tell you.

I like to think that a wine-drinking America is a better America. Our Founding Fathers drank wine, including fortified wines like Madeira. Jefferson famously cultivated grapes (or tried to) at Monticello, and to Jefferson is attributed one of the most accurate quotes about wine in history: “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.” Teetotalers, at least those that make it into the media (usually as politicians or religious leaders), seem like mean, intolerant people, with a rigidity that demands everyone else hew to their ideology, or else. Such an attitude is antithetical to the real spirit of wine, which is best suggested by the Prophet Isaiah’s hope for “a feast of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”

I’ll drink to that!

  1. I am the owner of the largest winery in Nevada. Yes there are actual wineries here, however only a couple of us are actually growing grapes in Nevada and producing Nevada wine. While tiny by any measure we have proven that certain varietals can do well in the Nevada desert. We have received Gold for our Zinfandel and recently won Double Gold at Tasters Guild for Nevada’s first Primitivo. Other grapes are Syrah, Barbera and Tempranillo and seem to do well and produce good wines.
    Our industry is very small and young but we are trying. We currently own or manage 10 acres of wine grapes and there is another 25 acres around the state. This year our winery will crush 30 plus tons of Nevada fruit.
    Just thought I would share that with folks and if your ever near Vegas, drop by.

    Bill Loken
    Owner
    Pahrump Valley Winery

  2. I would agree “a wine-drinking America is a better America” and in Texas we are trying to do our part. Additionally, we at the Fredericksburg Winery in Fredericksburg, Texas are trying to encourage the entire Texas population to be aware of the drought conditions also therefore our motto – CONSERVE TEXAS WATER – DRINK TEXAS WINE!

  3. Dear Bill Loken, thanks for letting us know.

  4. If Texans only knew how water intensive wine production is. Perhaps the motto should be “Drink Texas Wine, because we used up all the water making it”.

  5. Bill, I find it interesting that you actually grow your own grapes as well as produce the wine. How wonder how many of the other 50 states also grow the grapes?

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