I used to enjoy telling friends and strangers alike, especially when we are out that there are wineries in all fifty states. I always enjoy looking at the expressions on people’s faces when I make that statement. Of course, now disinformation forces will come out and this will become a non-issue. One of the leading periodicals about wine “Wine Enthusiast” has made an editorial decision that only five states in the country are worthy of discussion, even though they acknowledge that there are good wines being made elsewhere, only five coastal states merit discussion and all of the others aren’t worthy of their ink. All of the “fly over” states plus others, have been eliminated by some arrogant elitist or elitists, that probably want to speak for all, because they evidently know more than anyone else in the country. The top ten wine producing states in the nation are: California, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont and Virginia. According to the elitists only California, Oregon, Washington, New York and Virginia should rate your attention.
I find it almost laughable, because when I started learning about wines, California wasn’t even mentioned. This was the time of Gallo and Almaden and others who made jug wines with names like “Mountain Red Burgundy.” I started my real wine education when I started high school in 1969; some punk politician that owns a winery and allowed it to stay open during the China Flu wasn’t even two years old (and Snopes had to admit that it was open). I graduated from college before “The Judgement of Paris” occurred in 1976. The first wine reference book I purchased as a kid was published in 1971 and only afforded twelve pages to America with subsections for California and New York. Wine arrogance back then, really only thought of France, Italy and Germany with a few “also mentions” for other countries on the Continent.
I mention all of this, because I live in one of the top ten wine producing states in the country and it took me years to really try and give the wines a taste. They have slowly, but steadily increased in quality and perception. At first, I was as arrogant about California as I was about Michigan wines. The more I learned, the less arrogant I became, because I realized that there was a whole world of wines that I would never really discover or to pass judgement on. The first agricultural college in America was founded in 1857 and is now Michigan State University. For years, Michigan was only known for having a puppet-governor that defended Michigan as a felony state for the shipping of wines to a residence and thankfully she lost. This one term governor went on to a bigger job in politics and she wasn’t capable of being a governor. All I know, is that I have stopped being arrogant about wines and I look forward to trying wines from all of the other states that I recognize, as being part of the union; even if an editorial staff does not. Not that we travel that much, but I have tried wines from Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Hawaii, Kentucky, Arizona plus New York, California, Oregon and Washington; I have had some great reports about other states that I do want to try. I am smart enough to not turn my nose down at any wine these days, which I guess may be another reason that I will never be respected as a wine writer.