Posted: Jun 10, 2018
Reading statistics can be tricky. Total acreage of vines planted does not always correspond to the volume of wine produced. The reason? Some of the vines planted may be table grapes or grapes used for raisins or grape juice. The total vineyard surface in the US is a little over 1 million acres (approx. 440,000 hectares). However, all vines are not used for making wine.
The most grown grape in the United States is the Sultanina and this grape is either eaten or dried to raisins. There are 148,000 acres (60,000 hectares) of this grape, so 14% of the total surface of vines in the US. Moreover, there are 34,000 hectares of the Concord. This grape can be transformed into wine and occasionally is, mainly on the East coast, but nowadays it is more popular for jelly, juice and jam.
If we discard non-wine-making varieties from the statistics, we have roughly 800,000 acres (320,000 hectares) of vineyards for wine production in the United States.
The Chardonnay craze has not subsided. It the most planted variety with 106,000 acres (43,000 hectares). Though still a very popular grape it has been slightly declining in the past 10 years. In second place is another superstar, Cabernet Sauvignon with 101,300 acres (41,000 hectares). Plantings of Cabernet are stable and even growing a bit.
The capricious Burgundy grape Pinot Noir has seen a spectacular growth and is now in third place with 61,800 acres (25,000 hectares). In Oregon, it is the emblematic grape. The state is more or less synonymous with Pinot noir. The grape covers 60 % of the Oregon vineyards, which means approximately 18,300 acres (7,400 hectares) out of 33,500 acres in total.
Merlot with 51,900 acres (21,000 hectares) and Zinfandel with 47,000 acres (19,000 hectares) are both pretty stable whereas Syrah with 22,200 acres (9,000 hectares) is growing, just like in the rest of the world. Trendy Pinot Gris has increased at an enormous speed over the last 10 years and is now planted on 19,800 acres (8,000 hectares).
Top 10 wine grapes in the US
California is, of course, by far the most important US wine region with 80-90% of the total US production.
The Top 10 white grapes in California
The Top 10 red grapes in California
Looking for something else? Petit Verdot has seen a huge increase in recent years, Cabernet Franc and Mourvèdre are coming strong. Among the whites, some of our favourites - Vermentino, Verdelho, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc - can all be found albeit, so far, on small acreages.
(Statistics from OIV, Oregon Wine Board and California Wine Institute.)
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