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Courtesy of Oliver Winery

We Bet You Didn’t Know These States Made Wine

American wine is a $220 billion industry, responsible for over one million jobs in the country. Certain states are known for their winemaking — particularly California, which produces about 85 percent of all American wine. New York, Oregon, Washington, and Virginia are also known for their respective wine industries, but there are actually wineries in every one of the 50 states, totaling about 10,236.

Not every one of these states has a notable wine industry, however. But there are some in particular that don’t get as much recognition as they should for their winemaking. You may not have realized, for example, how successful some of the wines in Idaho are or that Colorado has a pretty serious winemaking industry as well. (So serious, in fact, that they’ve even made wine for cats!) Both Texas and Arizona have young, but growing, winemaking industries that aren’t often talked about. And those are just a few of the states that we bet you didn’t know make wine.

Courtesy of Kokopelli

Arizona

Arizona has three major wine regions: Verde Valley and the towns of Sonoita and Willcox. The wine industry here got its start in the 1500s as missionary Jesuit priests from Spain started to grow grapes in Arizona to make wine for their religious ceremonies. Over 110 wine cellars, vineyards, and wineries populate Arizona today.

Courtesy of Snowy Peaks

Colorado

Wine started being made in Colorado in the 1800s, when miners brought grapevines to the southern part of the state. The Colorado wine industry has grown immensely in the past few decades, growing from five wineries in 1990 to about 115 as of 2010.

Florida Orange Grove Winery/Facebook

Florida

The Sunshine State was actually the first place in the United States where wine grapes were grown — long before there even was a United States. Like in Arizona, Spanish missionaries in Florida started growing the crop in order to make wine for use in their religious ceremonies. Other types of wines are also made in Florida, where in 1991 Florida Orange Groves Winery started making them from 100 percent tropical fruit, including orange, mango, grapefruit, key lime, strawberry, and blueberry.

Courtesy of Volcano Winery

Hawaii

Thanks to the higher elevation of the volcanic mountains of Hawaii, the state has three main wineries: Island Mana Wines on Oahu, Tedeschi Vineyards on Maui, and Volcano Winery on Hawaii Island. Most wine produced here is fruit wine, like pineapple sparkling wine, but the state does produce grape wine as well.

Courtesy of Ste. Chapelle Winery

Idaho

The very first grape vineyards planted in the Pacific Northwest were in what is now the state of Idaho. Most Idahoan wineries are located in the Snake River Valley. Idaho is known for its cool climate white wines, but there has been more of a focus on red wines in recent years as well. Ste. Chapelle Winery, located in Caldwell, actually made it to our list of 101 best wineries in America.

Courtesy of Oliver Winery

Indiana

Wine started being made in Indiana in the seventeenth century, and by the mid-nineteenth century, the state was the tenth largest grape wine producer in the country. Today, over 75 wineries operate in the state, including Oliver Winery, the oldest and largest of them.

St. Michael's Winery/Facebook

Maryland

Winemaking started as early as the year 1648 in Maryland, but it wasn’t until 1662 that the first grapes from Europe were planted along the St. Marys River. Boordy Vineyards, the first actual winery in Maryland, opened 283 years later in 1945, and today the wine industry generates about $50 million of revenue every year. The Maryland Wine Festival, held every year, is one of the oldest and largest of its kind on the East Coast, with over 25,000 people in attendance and over 200 wines featured.

Tabor Hill Winery/Facebook

Michigan

Sweet wines are the traditional varietals in Michigan’s winemaking industry, although the state does produce grape wines as well. It is also one of the leading states in fruit wines, particularly cherry wine, and the state’s climate also allows for production of ice wine.

Courtesy of St. James Winery

Missouri

Missouri’s wine corridor is sometimes referred to as the “Missouri Rhineland” on account of the fact that it was German immigrants who established the first vineyards and wineries there in the early 1800s. By the mid-1880s, Missouri was producing more wine than any other state, and it was the second largest wine producer until Prohibition. Today, there are at least 116 wineries in Missouri.

Courtesy of Willow Creek

New Jersey

New Jersey’s winemaking industry started in the 1700s, when two men — Edward Antill and William Alexander, Lord Stirling — planted grapes and produced wine due to a cash incentive given to the North American colonies by the Royal Society of Arts in London. Today, there are 48 wineries in the state and much of the wine produced is of the non-grape variety, such as apple, blueberry, cranberry, and raspberry wine. The industry contributes about $30 million to the state’s economy annually.

Courtesy of La Chiripada Winery

New Mexico

New Mexico is yet another state whose wine industry began due to the need for wine to be used in sacraments of the church. The first vineyards were planted in the Río Grande valley by a Franciscan friar and a Capuchín monk in 1629. Today, 900,000 gallons of wine are produced every year by over 60 wineries in the state.

Biltmore Winery at Antler Hill

North Carolina

North Carolina is actually the tenth largest producer in the country of both grapes and wine, and is one of the nation’s five most visited states for wine tourism. Produced since the 1800s, North Carolina wine comes from 185 wineries and over 400 vineyards.

Markko Vineyard/Facebook

Ohio

The first wine grapes were planted in Ohio in 1823 by Nicholas Longworth, considered by many to be “the Father of American Grape Culture.” It took just a few decades for Ohio to become the largest wine-producing state, with Cincinnati being the most important city in the American wine trade. The Ohioan wine industry, like in other states, took a hit during Prohibition, but continues to be one of the top 10 wine producers today, with over 250 wineries in operation.

Courtesy of Crossing Vineyards

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the eighth largest wine producing state, with three main wine regions: Lehigh Valley, Lancaster Valley, and Lake Erie. The first Pennsylvania vineyard was planted in 1683, and it was actually near Philadelphia that the Alexander grape — a type of grape from which the first American commercial wines were made — was discovered in 1740. The state produces over 1.6 million gallons every year from over 200 wineries.

Courtesy of Llano Estcado

Texas

Franciscan priests are also responsible for the Texan wine industry, having planted the first grape vines near modern-day El Paso in the 1650s, making Texas one of the oldest wine-producing states. If you’re a lover of French wine, you have Texas to thank, as the state’s vines were used in research that found rootstock immune to the phylloxera epidemic in the late nineteenth century. Texas has over 200 wineries today and produces about 4,100 tons of wine, making it the fourth largest wine producer right behind California, New York, and Washington. The state’s largest producer is the University of Texas System, followed by Llano Estacado Winery, the first Texan winery to open after Prohibition. To explore some more Texan wineries, as well those from the other states, read more about the 101 best wineries in America.

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