By John ~ October 1st, 2010.
Only in America (and in some other New World wine regions) can you plant whatever grapes you want to plant where you want to plant them, irrigate if you wish, harvest the grapes when you want to harvest at whatever sugar level you desire, blend varieties as you wish, so on and so forth. In other words, you can try just about anything you want, and then survive or die by the results. In Europe, you have to abide by strict rules and prohibitions on just about everything, unless you are content to make simple table wine.
I believe that this freedom to experiment has been a primary contributor to the relatively early success of our modern wine industry as compared to the centuries and centuries of wine production in Europe. Sure there have been and will continue to be failures, some significant, but this freedom has contributed to successes beyond all expectations as well.
Take Washington State, for example. As recently as 1973, there were effectively only two active wineries in the state, American Wine Growers (now Chateau Ste. Michelle) and Associated Vintners (now Columbia Winery). Today there are over 700 wineries in Washington. Because there has been so much experimentation with different grape varieties in Washington, the State of Washington has a unique position in the world of wine. It makes world-class wines of many different varietals.
A good case can be made in Washington for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux-style blends, Syrah, and Riesling, just to name a few. Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon have also done very well, not to mention relatively new plantings of many other varietals such as Malbec. Probably the most comprehensive listing of grape varietals growing in Washington today can be found in Paul Gregutt’s book, Washington Wines and Wineries, Second Edition.
In Europe, the emergence of a wine region like Washington State in such a small amount of time could not have happened. Once again we have seen the fruits [no pun intended] of a democratic society manifest itself, this time in wine. Only in America!
Filed under: American Wine, General Wine Information