The Rise Of American Wine


THE STORY OF AMERICAN wine begins with the attempt to reproduce European wine in American vineyards. Over and over again for three hundred years, whether because of nature or human folly, that attempt ended in failure. The rise began only when American winemakers, with the help of science, technology, and often brazen ambition, started to make wine on their own terms. The results were impressive, so much so that the world beat a path to their door. But the terms were ultimately too simple. “At one time,” says Robert Mondavi, “I really felt technology gave us control. Here we were making these clean, fresh, fruity wines and I thought that was the acme of perfection. But what we forgot was that even though the wines were clean and well made, much more so than the general wines of the world, we didn’t know the heart or the soul of the wine.” The effort to know just that, to realize the ideal of the redefined “best,” marks the next and perhaps greatest challenge for American winemakers. But as a challenge it is not theirs alone. The finest winemakers throughout the world are taking it up as well, and today wine regions all over the globe are producing wines of unparalleled quality, both at the massproduced and at the artisanal level. The last decades of the twentieth century have become a truly golden age for wine, one inspired in large measure by the success as well as the ongoing promise of American wine.

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