Why Americans Drink More Wine Than Any Other Country

White wine pouring from the bottle into the glass on green nature blurred background

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White wine pouring from the bottle into the glass on green nature blurred background
Oleg Elkov/istockphoto

Celebrate Wine!

While Europe may be better-known for its love of wine, the U.S. is no slouch in the wine department either, with literally thousands of wineries. Americans make and drink a lot of the world’s wine. Read on for 17 things you didn't know about America’s wine industry.

Related: How to Spot a Good, Cheap Bottle of Wine

Church bread and wine
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A Long History

In 1769, Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra planted the Mission grape variety at Mission San Diego de Alcala. Gladys Horiuchi, director of media relations at the Wine Institute explains, "This first planting was done to create wines for the church and soon spread to other missions across California."

wine barrels

We Make a Lot of Wine

Every state in the U.S. has a winery. Yes, even Hawaii and Alaska. In 2017, the U.S. made 900 million gallons of wine — 12% of the world's wine production, according to the National Association of American Wineries.

Related: Great Wines Under $20 from Every State

wine drinking

We Drink a Lot of Wine

The National Association of American Wineries reports that in 2018, the world consumed 6.5 billion gallons of wine. Of that, the U.S. drank the most — 872 million gallons. We have been the world's leading consumer of wine since 2011, in fact.

red and white wine

We Are Predictable

If you’re a wine drinker, you probably can guess that either chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon is the leading grape produced in the U.S. Which do you think it is?

Whichever you guessed, you are correct! According to The Wine Economist, sells the best by volume, but because bottles of cabernet sauvignon generally fetch a slightly higher price, the net dollar sales for cabernet sauvignon are slightly higher.

Pinot Noir Vineyard in Sonoma County, CA - Aerial Shot

California Leads Wine Production

It's probably no surprise that California makes the most wine in the U.S. — about 80% of it. The Wine Institute reports that 85% of the wine in California is produced in a certified sustainable winery. The next leading states, in order of production, are Washington, New York, Oregon, and Texas.

Related: The Best of California for Budget Vacations

california vineyard

California Is Not Covered in Vineyards

With all the wine produced in California, you may think the whole state is basically covered in vineyards. In fact, according to Horiuchi, "California acreage planted to wine grapes was 637,000 in 2018, less than 1% of the state's terrain."

grape clusters

It Takes a Lot of Grapes

With so much affordable and delicious wine available, it may feel like making wine is a breeze. Not so. Horiuchi elaborates, "It takes about six to eight clusters of wine grapes to make a bottle of wine."

people working in vineyard

The Wine Industry Employs Thousands of People

Thanks to the seasonal nature of winemaking, it’s hard to estimate the exact number of people involved, as a lot of the people involved are part-time seasonal workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, though, that there were more than 64,000 people employed by wineries in 2017, which is 153% more than there were in 2001.

wine production finger lakes

There Are Some Exciting New Regions to Watch

California wine is iconic for a reason, but there are some up and comers on the American winemaking scene. Some spots to watch: Virginia, Arizona, Michigan, and the Finger Lakes and Long Island in New York.

Related: Top 13 Regions for Value Wines Around the World

elderly people drinking wine

Each State Likes to Drink

When it comes to total wine consumed, according to the National Association of American Wineries, California is easily in the lead, followed by Florida and New York. Wine consumption per capita, though, is a bit more surprising. According to the National Institutes of Health, Idaho is in the lead with 1.19 gallons; followed by Washington, D.C., with 1.03; and New Hampshire with 0.88.

man working in wine cellar

We Export a Lot of Wine

The National Association of American Wineries reports that U.S. wine exports reached $1.46 billion in value in 2018. Some 95% of that exported wine came from California.

Napa Valley Sign

We Take Wine Seriously

In the U.S., we have what are called American Viticultural Areas or "AVAs," which are official winegrowing regions. There are currently 246 AVAs in 33 states, including the most recently recognized Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA.

wine bottles on display
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wine sales person
Denia Fernandez/istockphoto

We Spend a Lot of Money on Wine

Listen, we like wine, okay? According to Wine Vine Analytics, American consumers spent $14.4 billion on wine between March 2018 and March 2019, including "grocery, drug, mass merchandisers, convenience, dollar, military, as well as a selection of warehouse clubs, and liquor channel geographies and liquor channel retail chains."

Related: 50 Great-Tasting Red Wines Under $20

Wine Sales

Wine Is a Big Business in the U.S.

According to Wine Analytics Report, the American wine industry grew to more than $70 billion in 2018, with 408 million cases in total volume. While sales growth has technically slowed, the total market has doubled since 2003, with consumers buying wine at higher price points than before.

red wine beach

Hawaii Goes Crazy for Cab

You'd maybe think that California would be the state most into cabernet sauvignon. You'd be wrong. According to Wine Searcher, Hawaii is the state craziest for cab — it accounts for 20.6% of its internet searches about wine, the highest proportion in the country.

Vitis labrusca

We Have Our Own Native Wine Grapes

Most of the grapes used for wine are with the species Vitis vinifera, which originally came from the ancient Caucasus region. But, America has its own native grapes, too. If you've ever had concord grape jelly, you've tried them! Meet the species Vitis labrusca. There are some "hybrid" grapes from labrusca being used to make wine in states with colder climates.

Related: 21 Wine Clubs That Will Satisfy Even the Snobs