U.S. Wine Industry

The wines of the United States fall into the “new world wine” category and have quickly risen to the fourth largest produced in the world. Wine is produced in all fifty states, but several states are clear wine production leaders.

After prohibition, the American consumers wanted cheap table wine and fortified (high alcohol content) wine. However, schools in California and New York led the way in reviving the wine industry to what it is today. And luckily, the consumer demands grew more sophisticated along with the research.

California leads the way with wine productions for the states. The majority of schools that offer enology programs are located in California. Further, the majority of job opportunities, whether through vineyards, wineries or distribution companies are located within the regions of Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and the Central Coast. California is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

The next region, the Pacific Northwest, includes the states of Washington and Oregon. With their similar climates and terroir, they make up a good portion of wine production for the states. Oregon wineries are smaller than most, and specialize in Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The specialty Washington wine is the Riesling.

New York is ranked third in wine production in the U.S. and offers a multitude of opportunity for those in the wine industry. The wines produced are a variety, but typically you will see Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Two states that currently have small production but are on the rise are Virginia and North Carolina. Both battle humidity and pests, but persevere to produce major varietals as well as sweeter wines. For those looking to be involved in the start-ups of some major wine players, these two states have plenty of opportunities.

The top five wine companies in the U.S. (and thus the most opportunities as of 2006 according to Wine Business Monthly) are as follows:

    1. E & J Gallo Winery
    2. Constellation Brands
    3. The Wine Group (better known for the Franzia box wine label)
    4. Bronco Wine Company (better known for “two buck chuck” line)
    5. Foster’s Wine Estates
Sign up for our newsletter!