Historically speaking, the United States is new to the wine game. Remains of a winery discovered in Armenia have been dated to around 4100 B.C. and the first winery in France was established in the year 1000 — while winemaking in what is now the United States began only in 1783, at the San Juan Capistrano Mission in California. (Not surprisingly, the Old World dominates our list of the best wines in the world according to the experts.)
The Mission produced wine for sacramental purposes, and didn’t sell it to the public. The first commercial winery in the country, opened in 1799, was the appropriately named First Vineyard outside Lexington, Kentucky. Though it was revived in the early years of this century, the original operation didn’t last past the mid-1800s. On the other hand, the Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, New York, vintage 1839, has remained open since its founding, making it the oldest continuously operating winery in America.
New York and especially Kentucky may not be the first places you think of when you think of winemaking, but today there are wineries in every one of the 50 states. Even Hawaii, even Alaska, have wineries — though in the latter case, the wines are based on berries or on grape juice imported from other states. In many other parts of the country, too, fruit other than grapes is used or wine is made from native American or French-American hybrid grapes, not familiar European varieties like merlot or chardonnay. (Wine isn’t always involved, of course, but these are the drunkest states in America.)
The nation’s undisputed wine capital remains California, which produces almost 90% of all the wine made in America, and boasts more than 6,000 wineries. The state with the second-most number of wineries, Oregon, has a mere 1,389 — though it has more wineries per capita than any other state, so is No. 1 on our list.
Click here to see the states with the most (and fewest) wineries
24/7 Tempo has compiled and ranked a list of the number of bonded wineries per capita in every state. Those numbers, as well as the total number of wineries in each state, are based on data published by VinePair, a digital media company producing content related to wine and other alcoholic beverages. VinePair drew the data from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
A bonded winery is one producing wine under a bond guaranteeing payment of federal excise taxes. Most American wineries are bonded, but according to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, any producer owing less than $50,000 per year in taxes will no longer be required to maintain a wine bond, so the actual number of wineries around the country is probably larger than this data indicates.
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