The United Grapes of America
By Jeff Harding
June 2012
 

To celebrate Independence Day, we're giving a shout-out to wineries from every one of our dear 50 states. Some regions are still young and working toward world class quality, while others are climatically challenged in grape production. So our list includes a few makers of fruit wines, along with wineries that buy grapes from other states. These may not be Barolo or Burgundy (yet), but being proud Americans here at StarChefs.com, we want to recognize the fact that each of our 50 states now produces wine, and encourage you to try some of our community's favorites if you have the chance.

On our quest for recommendations, we came across some devoted champions of American wine. Nadine Brown at Charlie Palmer Steak, in Washington, DC, maintains an all-American wine list. Andrew Stover, also based in our nation's capital, consults for a number of restaurants and has started a portfolio to represent wines from every state in the Union. Doug Frost is a wine consultant based in Kansas City, Missouri, who knows more about Midwestern wine than anybody we came across (though the Midwest Wine Press is also a valuable resource). Jared Lee Pyles at HD1 in Atlanta is diving into the local drink movement by changing his wine list to feature only wines from Georgia. And Todd Kliman has a fantastic grasp of the history of American wine, particularly the Norton grape and Missouri's role in American winemaking, as told in The Wild Vine.

And although almost every state is jumping onto the beer brewing bandwagon, local breweries don't necessarily grow their own hops or grains, so let's not snub our noses at those wineries that source their grapes elsewhere. They still employ community members, pay local taxes, and sate the thirst of locavores.

Every state has a winemakers association to help promote local wine, and some states even offer different versions of liquor licenses, such as Iowa, whose native Iowa Wine License encourages Hawkeye State restaurateurs to offer local wine without exorbitant licensing fees. We applaud every action and organization that makes it easier to drink local, and invite everyone to do more. Drinking, that is.

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