American vineyards are hundreds of years old, but the U.S. is still considered a newcomer in wine production. The number of North American wineries surpassed 9,000 in 2016, and this growth is expected to continue. With new varietals coming from California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Texas and more, there’s no doubt that American vines are important and are here to stay.
Ponce de Leon arrived in Florida in 1513, and was followed by Spanish and French Huguenot settlers who began making wine as early as 1565 with the native American grape, Muscadine.
New Mexico established the first vineyards in 1629, when Spanish missionaries planted cuttings of the “Mission grape.” Wine came to California in 1769 when the Spanish built the San Diego mission, and then continued to move north with the establishment of 20 other missions, until concluding with the Sonoma mission in 1823.
President Thomas Jefferson attempted to establish a winery and plant vineyards in Virginia in the late 1700s and early 1800s. However, he was not successful due to black rot and the pest phylloxera. Because of this, many of the East Coast and Midwest American wineries still use native American or hybrid grapes, such as the Concord, Niagara, Norton, and Catawba: they are more tolerant of those climates. Brotherhood Winery in New York, for example, established in 1839 and the oldest continually operated winery in America, continues to use some native American grapes, especially Riesling.
The geographical range of those early American wineries is wide. The Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin was originally established in 1842 by Count Harazathy from Hungary, before he headed west to start California’s oldest premium winery Buena Vista in 1857.
Other notable early wineries:;
Stone Hill Winery in Missouri dates from 1847,
Meiers Winery in Ohio from 1856,
Renault Winery of New Jersey 1864.
Wiederkehr Wine Cellars and Post Famile Vineyards of Arkansas both started in 1880,
Val Verde Winery of Texas began in 1883.
The oldest continually operated sparkling winery in California is Korbel Champagne Cellars founded in 1882.