Many wine drinkers in the UK see the USA as a producer of inexpensive major brands at one end (just look in your local garage shop!) and expensive boutique wines at the other.

Happily though, as our buyers have discovered, there is much middle ground these days where discerning drinkers can enjoy fabulous flavors and increasingly compelling value.

As recently as the 1960s winemaking was still in its infancy thanks largely to prohibition. During the last 45 years however, winemaking and consumption have increased dramatically. The average American now consumes 11 bottles of wine a year - a fourfold increase.

A huge boost to the US wine industry came with the infamous tasting in 1976 known as the 'Judgement of Paris' - dramatized in the film 'Bottle Shock.' A variety of top Californian wines and top-flight French offerings were tasted blind and ranked by some of the best noses and palates in the business - the Californian wines performed magnificently. With its reputation cemented, Californian, and American wine in general, has never looked back.

After California, the next most important states for wine are Oregon and Washington in the cooler Pacific Northwest. Many critics believe this region produces some of the finest Pinot Noirs outside of Burgundy.

"Californian wines can achieve a sophistication and style much closer to their European counterparts than many other New World wines."

Andrew Catchpole, The Daily Telegraph

"Zinfandel, California's greatest contribution to the wine world."

Richard Ehrlich, The Independent on Sunday

"Napa Valley is California's answer to the Médoc for its blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot."

Anthony Rose, The Independent

  • Popular Grapes

    Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Famous Producers

    Bonny Doon, Trefethen, Stag's Leap, Ridge

  • Principal Regions

    California, Oregon, Washington State

  • Climate

    Continental, Mediterranean

    Did you know?

  • DNA fingerprinting has shown that Zinfandel and Italy's Primitivo are one and the same grape variety.
  • The USA is world's 4th largest wine producer.
  • The Vikings were the first to notice the USA's potential as a wine producer - Leif Ericsson helmed an expedition to the place he named 'Vinland' in around 1000AD.