The best wines from America

There are numerous ways to divide wines into different types or styles. This way you distinguish wines into old world wines and new world wines. Europe, as the origin of winemaking is called the old world and is still the largest and dominant wine producer, with France, Italy, Spain and Germany as the key producers. Outside Europe, the U.S., Argentina, Chile, Australia and South Africa are the most important wine producers, and these countries form the largest part of the new world of wine.

New World vines have their origins in Europe, thanks to European settlers who brought grape varieties to their new homeland. The label "new" indicates the emergence of these wine countries in the market, with innovative insights and the way they produce their wines.

The United States differs from European appellations in its less stringent regulations. Here, appellations are referred to as AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) which, unlike French AOP legislation, impose basic standards and give winemakers the freedom to choose grape varieties and vinification methods.

The majority of the best American wines come from California, the 'Golden State' of the United States and Oregon. These areas in the United States have an ideal climate and soil composition. 

Regions in United States

California  |  Central Coast  |  Napa Valley  |  Oregon  |  Santa Barbara  |  Santa Lucia  |  Sonoma  |  Ventura County  |  Washington

Best of Wines: Specialist in exclusive wines from the USA

At Best of Wines, you have come to the right place if you are looking for exclusive USA wines. Best of Wines has a very large stock of these wines from the USA, especially wines from Napa, Sonoma and Oregon. These are without a doubt some of the most renowned wine regions in the country. But other areas like, amongst others,  Washington also produce magnificent wines.

Wineries such as Harlan, with its top tier and always very high scoring Cabernet Sauvignon and Screaming Eagle, to be compared with Chateau Petrus in its rariry, quality and price, belong to the best of American wines. For white wines, Aubert can be seen as one of the most iconic producers and Sine Qua Non is exceptional in its very limited assortment of yearly changing wines (and name of its wines). The list of high quality producers is almost endless: Marcassin with its pinot noir, Hundred Acre withs its Ark, Dark Ark and Wraith wines and Ridge with its world famous Monte Bello and Dunn Vineyards with its Howell Mountain wines, are just a sample of this list and are among the absolute best wines in the USA and much loved worldwide.

Legendary wines from the USA

All wines in United States
United States

History of wines from the USA

European settlers in North America quickly discovered that something was missing: wine. So these settlers tried to find ways to produce wine like they were used to in Europe. The earliest attempts date back to 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, where they pressed the first wine from local, native grapes. But these early efforts did not yet make wine of the desired quality. It would take two more centuries before they managed to produce wine at the expected quality level.

The biggest problem was that the local American grape varieties were not suitable for making drinkable wine. European vines (Vitis vinifera) were also unable to withstand the American climate, the diseases and local pests. It was a challenge to find vines that both grew well and produce quality grapes in American conditions.

However, that all changed in the 19th century with the discovery of a white hybrid called "Alexander," created from a cross between an American Vitis labrusca and a European Vitis vinifera. It directly started the beginning of a hopeful period for viticulture in the eastern states of the United States. Viticulture began to spread steadily, planting mainly the foxy-red hybrid Concord grape. Sweet wines and grape juice were preferably produced from this grape. After World War II, people concentrated on growing French hybrids that produced wines of more pleasing quality.

Eventually they managed to successfully adapt European grapevines to the American climate and produce high-quality wines in the United States. 


The best wine regions in America

California, The Golden State, is the hub of American wine production, producing 90% of all the wines produced in the United States, where Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the leading grape varieties.

Washington State and Oregon follow as major wine regions. Washington State is the second largest wine producer, despite having only 10% of California's plantings. Washington is known for fruity and powerful wines, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling, and is now experimenting with Malbec. Well-known AVAs include Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley, Red Mountain and Walla Walla.

Oregon is a notable wine region in the U.S., with comparisons to Burgundy, mainly because of its emphasis on Pinot Noir. Oregon is known as a "cool climate" wine region with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay as the dominant grape varieties. The main AVA is Willamette Valley. Southern Oregon is home to Bordeaux grapes, as well as Rhone and Spanish varieties.

The grapes of wines from the USA

The main grape varieties in America and California include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. Remarkably, 60% of the plantings are blue grapes.


Classifications of wines from America

In the late 1970s, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) setup a system for the definition of wine appellations, known as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). These AVAs were definied primarily based on geographic locations and clearly defined borders. 

Throughout the United States, American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) vary greatly in size, spanning from the expansive Upper Mississippi River AVA, which covers over 19 million acres (29,900 square miles or 77,000 km2) across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, to the much more modest 60-acre (24 hectares) Mendocino County, California AVA. The Augusta AVA, located in the vicinity of Augusta, Missouri, has the honour of being the first officially recognized AVA, a status it achieved on June 20, 1980.

There are currently 267 AVAs across 34 states, with 147 covering more than half a state. AVAs can coexist within larger ones, known as ‘’nesting’’, and allow winemakers to label their wines with the most specific AVA. Smaller AVAs don't always guarantee higher quality wines. Unlike French AOP regulations, they provide fundamental parameters and allow for the selection of grape types and vinification procedures. If a vintage is specified, it must account for 95% of the wine. For a grape variety to be listed, at least 75% (90% in Oregon) of that variety must be present in the bottle. For an AVA to be included, at least 85% of the wine must be produced in that region. The terms "reserve" and "special selection" have no legal validity and are mostly used for marketing purposes.

One might assume that smaller AVAs lead to lower yields and higher-quality wines, but this isn't a hard and fast rule. Furthermore, AVAs enable consumers to associate specific qualities, reputations, or characteristics with wines crafted from grapes grown within a particular AVA. In essence, AVAs provide consumers with a valuable tool for discerning the qualities of the wines they are purchasing.

Wine labels of American wines

The TTB is responsible for wine labelling rules in the United States. They require that wines with a specific appellation must contain at least 75% of their grapes from that region. However, some states may deviate from this: For example, in California, wines with an AVA must contain 100% of their grapes from that region.

The labelling laws are, amongst others:

  • Grape variety and origin: If a specific AVA is listed on the label, at least 85% of the grapes used must be from that AVA. If a label lists a County, state or other country, the minimum requirement is 75%.
  • Minimum Percentage Grape: When a County, state or country is designated as an appellation, at least 75% of the grapes used must be from that listed appellation, unless more stringent regional rules require otherwise.
  • Vintage laws: All wines with a vintage must list a specific appellation smaller than a County. If a wine with a vintage mentions a specific AVA, 95% of the grapes must come from that year. For wines with a state or County designation, the minimum is 85%.
  • Grape varietals: All wines with a grape variety designation must consist of at least 75% of the grape variety listed.
  • Alcohol content: The label must state the alcohol content, with a margin of plus or minus 1.5%. Wines with an alcohol content between 7 and 14% may be designated as "table wine" or "light wine."
  • Health and sulfite warnings: Each wine label must contain a health warning. Also, when a wine contains more than 10 parts per million of sulfites, then "Contains Sulfite" must appear on the label.
  • Producer's Address and Name: The bottler's name and address must appear on each wine label.

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