Whether you're cracking open a bottle with dinner or pouring yourself a glass after a long day at work, wine has long been a fixture in many of our lives — now more than ever. But have you ever wondered where your wine comes from? We know we have, which is precisely why we decided to look at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's website, which keeps track of all the wine brewed and bottled across the continental United States.
We've compiled their statistics into the infographic you see below — scroll past for a bit more context and commentary on each section.
Still, wine is the type most people think about when you mention wines. Because it doesn't contain any carbon dioxide, there's no fizz or bubbles. It's simply a mostly inert liquid.
According to the TTB, California is the largest bottler and exporter of domestic still wine, responsible for 80% of all inventory in the United States. Other states that bottle still wine include Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, New York, and Philadelphia, though none even come close to California.
A category that includes sparkling wine and champagne, effervescent wines either contain carbon dioxide as a direct result of the fermentation process or have carbon dioxide injected. As with still wine, California is at the top of the pile for effervescent wine, responsible for 26,894,962 bottles in 2020 — 85% of all wines bottled that year.
Why Does California Have Such a Lead?
Overall, 80.49% of domestic wine was bottled in California in 2020. The next closest state was New York, at only 4.06%. Given that California leads the nation in both vineyards and wineries, this is hardly surprising — it's not called Wine Country for nothing.
But why is it such a hotbed for winemaking?
First and foremost is the region's climate. The summers are warm and dry, and even the winter months aren't quite as cold as elsewhere, typically marked by rain instead of snow. Factor in the excellent soil quality and high volume of water, and it's the perfect environment for winemaking.
There's also a lot of history behind California's wine industry, which dates back to the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the region in the 1800s.
For decades, it was generally accepted that France was the place for winemaking. Believe it or not, California became a major contender in 1976, when a bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay ranked higher than some of France's best product in a blind tasting. So, the next time you feel like uncorking a bottle, consider buying domestic.
You might be surprised at how good it tastes.