A Short History of Wine in America
“The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.” – Benjamin Franklin
The consumption of wine in America is very popular. In fact, wine has become so popular in America that the United States now consumes more wine than France. That’s huge! We mean, even children drink wine in France. Thanks in part to such films as ‘Sideways’ and popular television shows, Americans are becoming more and more open to wine. But that wasn’t always the case.
More than forty years ago, fine wine was often associated with costly Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne, and therefore it was largely considered very expensive and anti-populist. But wine growing and consumption actually stretches back hundreds of years. For example, Ohio still grows Catawba, the native grape that was crucial to Nicholas Longworth’s first commercial winery in the United States in the 1830s; And North Carolina’s Roanoke Island is still home to a 400-year-old Scuppernong vine trained by the Englishmen that washed up there in the late 1500s. That’s a pretty fascinating history.
With $36.3 billion in wine sales in the U.S. in 2013, more than double the value of wine sold in 1999, it’s safe to assume that wine is a huge component of American’s lives. And thanks to a wide array of American wineries, such as Laurita, we have our own wines to savor on a daily basis.
Here’s a timeline of how wine came to be the American phenomenon it is today. So grab a glass of your favorite Laurita wine and toast to the evolution of wine, courtesy of eater.com.
- 1830 – Nicholas Longworth founds America’s first commercially successful winery near Cincinnati, Ohio. He’ll soon become famous for his sparkling wines made from the native Catawba grape.
- 1846 – Maine is the first state to go completely dry. The rumblings of Prohibition begin.
- 1860 – Pleasant Valley Wine Company, America’s first bonded winery, is founded in New York’s Finger Lakes region.
- 1861 – Charles Krug establishes California’s first commercial winery in St. Helena.
- 1879 – Gustav Niebaum founds Inglenook Winery in the town of Rutherford. His are the first Bordeaux-style wines to be produced in the U.S and win international acclaim.
- 1920 – Prohibition begins. The next 13 years will ultimately hurl American wine into obscurity for almost a half-century.
- 1933 – Prohibition is repealed. Of the nearly 2,500 wineries in the U.S. prior to Prohibition, less than 100 remain.
- 1965 – Robert Mondavi breaks away from the Charles Krug estate to found his own winery and usher in the modern era of American winemaking.
- 1976 – The famous Judgment of Paris turns the world’s attention to California when a panel of French wine experts score several of the state’s wines higher than top Bordeaux and white Burgundy in a blind tasting.
And 22 years later, the first acres of grapes were planted at Laurita.
The rest, as they say, is history.