America Uncovered: the wine regions in the US flying under the radar
When we talk about American wine, we usually talk about California. We also mention Washington and Oregon in the same breath, but it is often forgotten that wine is made in 49 states. Yes, that includes Utah! And there are some incredible wines out there from some amazing wineries! Some are super forward thinking, others have found a close likeness to legendary regions of the old world and some even make great wines from the native grape, or at least hybrids of, Vitis Labrusca and Vitis Vinifera. It’s time we started a nationwide adventure to these places and uncover these wine treasures.
New York is bustling with amazing wineries and they are popping up all over the state. There is something great happening in New York when it comes to wine, with the cooler winters and warm summers all over the state making pockets of the state an exceptional place to grow cool climate wine. Riesling has found a new home in the Finger Lakes and wineries like Boundary Breaks are giving it some serious cred. Liten Buffel, in Niagra, has blown our minds with their Riesling as well, suggesting there is a lot of potential for the grape statewide. Over in Long Island there are a couple of wineries who are paving the way for the state, creating killer Rosés, decadent reds, and crisp white wines. Channing Daughters have been introducing us to some awesome new grapes through artisanal experimentation of 12 different varieties. We cannot forget to mention the Wolffer Estate Summer in a Bottle Rosé that has become the feel-good hit of the summer, flying off retail shelves of the hottest wine shops from the Hamptons to Nantucket. New York wine is a serious, and something to be reckoned with!
Vermont and Maine
There is something about wine coming from the North East that almost makes no sense at all, at least not when you are working with Vitis Vinifera. So why force yourself to work with Vinifera? Producers like La Garagista, Zafa Wines, Oyster River Wine Growers, and Iapetus have found the hearty hybrids of Vitis Vinifera and Vitis Labrusca to be more than suitable fruits for creating delicious wines in the extreme cold. They have also all seemed to come to the conclusion that these grapes, with their hearty aromas and super bright acidity, are perfect for Pet-Nats. As the thirst for Pet-Nat wines continues to grow, so may we see a surge in the popularity of these North East wines.
Michigan might not be your go-to region for wine, but if you are a fan of Riesling then you should seek out anything you can find from this state. Riesling just seems to be in its own glorious element in this state, pushing New York and Oregon for our hearts and attention. These wines are super hard to find, which means you have to dig around, ask questions at your local specialty wine shop, and wade through some mediocre stuff until you find some exceptional wines from the Old Mission Peninsula. In fact, wines from the Old Mission Peninsula might be reason enough to visit Michigan. Yes, I know what I just said.
Arizona was flung onto every cool wine hunting radar a while back when the lead singer of Tool decided to open a winery in the state. James Maynard Keenan is definitely onto something though, as Arizona is home to one of a few places in the world that experiences a "Haboob," a wild swing in temperature from day to night. Coupled with some high elevations in certain areas, Arizona makes for a hardy that adventurous winemakers can really do some great stuff with. The result is some spectacular, rich, and fruity wines across the spectrum coming from the likes of Rune and Burning Tree. Be on the lookout for Petite-Sirah, Grenache, and good old-fashioned Syrahs and Viogniers. Shit, it's basically the wild west meets the Rhone.
These wineries go to show that if you think that American wine is all about California, then you have another thing coming. Craft, artisanal wines are coming to the forefront in every state and it is exciting to see the growth of these wineries expand our palates in some wild ways. It shows that you don't have to go abroad to enjoy a wine adventure, you can have one right here in the United States. New homes for noble grapes, interesting rare varietals, and even native grapes are growing the fringes of the American wine industry in delicious ways. Keep on the lookout for these states the next time you go out and buy your wines, and for other states as well.