Wine is produced in many of the American states, though over 90% comes from California. Vitis Vinifera vines were introduced to North America by Spanish missionaries who cultivated them to make communion wines. However it wasn’t until the late twentieth century that Californian wine became a popular beverage in the UK and other export markets.
In 1976 at the ‘Judgement of Paris’ tasting, when Californian producers were invited to show their finest wines in a competition against the best from Bordeaux and Burgundy, to everyone’s amazement California swept the board and over the following decades consumers’ perceptions of the wines changed and sales rocketed. California is now recognised as one of the world’s premier wine producers.
Many of the less widespread varieties also make a major contribution to the state’s output. Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Chenin Blanc all have a loyal following. Some excellent vermouth style and fortified wines are also produced, for example Andrew Quady’s winery near Fresno makes some delicious dessert wines from the Muscat grape.