The USA: Fine Wine from the Melting Pot

Like our nation itself, the wines of the United States are the bold and lusty product of an international melting pot.

We have France to thank for the dry acidic style of table wine that places a premium on subtle complexity. Our finest grapes, too, are French: The Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and more.

Italy taught us the joy of wine as an ideal companion with food.

Germany contributed the Riesling grape and a taste for sweeter wines.

The story of American wine is told in a babel of accents and bears a United Nations of names.

From Count Agostin Haraszthy, who got the California wine industry on its feet a century ago, to Andre Tchelistcheff, who did as much as any man to professionalize U.S. wine making since World War II, the list goes on:

Paul Masson and Charles LeFranc were early luminaries. Later came Martini, Parducci, Sebastiani and more, all names we recognize on labels today.

Robert Mondavi convinced his peers that California could make wine to compete with the best of France. Mondavi's Napa Valley neighbors, Joe Heitz and Joseph Phelps, Bill Hill and Bernard Portet, among dozens of others, made great wines to prove the point.

Ernest and Julio Gallo taught the world how to sell good wine.

Along the way, with much of the activity in California but also bursting out across most of the 50 states, the old ways have gradually blended into a new, all-American style.

Rich fruit, ripe grapes, deep, powerful aromas and flavors: These qualities characterize American wine at its best.

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