Zinfandel and Chardonnay – The Most Popular Grapes in the USA

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Though the Italian wine industry is now the largest in the entire world, we’d be remiss not to point out the fact that many other countries have thriving industries of their own.

There are the obvious ones, such as France and Spain. Italy has long held a friendly wine rivalry with these great European titans of the grape.

Of course, wines are also extremely popular in the Americas. Argentina, for example, has a bustling wine industry that’s grown substantially over the years. And of course, the United States has one of the world’s more famous wine industries. In particular, California is the state most associated with American wine. Its warm climate makes it perfect for growing a number of types of grape and the state hosts many wineries and wine tours in much the same way as Italy.

That led us to an interesting question.

We wondered which grapes prove most popular in the United States.

A little research showed us the answers. For white wines, Chardonnay comes out on top. That may not be a surprise to many as Chardonnay is one of the world’s more popular grapes.

The red grape may be a little more surprising. It seems that Zinfandel is the grape of choice in the United States. Though not quite the most widely-grown grape, it does appear to be the most beloved.

All told, Chardonnay grapes take up over 106,000 acres of land in the states. Zinfandel has perhaps a small spread, as it takes up 47,000 acres. But that’s still an extremely strong number and it’s enough to move the grape quite high up.

So, with all of these knowledge to hand, we’ve decided to take a closer look at both grapes in this article. First, we’ll take a look at a few interesting facts about Chardonnay. Then, we’ll move onto looking at some more facts about Zinfandel.

Five Interesting Facts About Chardonnay

Fact 1

It was not until the 1950s had been and gone that the grape started to gain a little steam.

In fact, the grape was so rarely used that what little was used often went by a misnomer. People referred to the grape as Pinot Chardonnay under the mistaken belief that it was a relative of the Pinot Noir grape.

Fact 2

Despite its apparent rarity, at least in the United States, during the early parts of the 20thcentury, Chardonnay has a long and rich pedigree behind it. In fact, it’s known that the grape was a favourite amongst French nobility and royalty as far back as 800 AD.

In fact, there’s a legend surrounding Chardonnay’s popularity in the country. So disgusted was she by the red stains in her husband’s beard, Emperor Charlemagne’s wife ordered the planting of white grapes in their family vineyard, rather than the burgundy grapes that grew there before.

Fact 3

It’s taken less than 80 years for Chardonnay to become the most widely-grown grape in the United States.

Harkening back to our first Chardonnay fact, there simply wasn’t the demand for the grape in the 1940s. Back then, only 100 acres of vineyards were dedicated to it.

Today, there’s over a thousand times that amount of acreage dedicated to the grape in the USA. In wine industry terms, that’s a rather meteoric rise.

Fact 4

As you’d expect, Chardonnay is also the highest selling wine in the States as well as being the most widely grown.

Each year, Americans drink almost 850,000 bottles of the wine. This dwarfs the numbers achieved by any other wine, red or white, in the country.

Fact 5

Monterey County has the largest amount of Chardonnay vineyards in the USA. All told, the country accounts for 17,000 acres.

Its coastal positioning, coupled with its slightly cooler climate, make it a good choice for Chardonnay growers.

Five Interesting Facts About Zinfandel

Chardonnay may be the most popular wine in the states, but it’s Zinfandel that seems to have a hold on more people’s hearts.

Here are a few interesting facts about the grape.

Fact 1

For years, wine scholars argued about the origins of the grape. While most believed that it came from Europe, many disagreed on the exact country of origin.

DNA evidence finally solved the mystery. Zinfandel actually comes from Croatia, which isn’t a country that’s known for its wine industry. Of course, it’s now grown all over the world.

Fact 2

Chardonnay may be more widely-grown, but it’s Zinfandel that got into California first. In fact, the Americans have been growing this grape for so long that it’s now considered California’s heritage grape.

The grape appears to have been first grow in the States way back in 1850. That means that several of the vines used in the modern era are at least 100 years old.

Fact 3

Zinfandel isn’t often seen as a wine that ages particularly gracefully. However, it all comes down to the wine’s quality.

A well-made bottle of Zinfandel actually has similar ageing potential to a bottle of Cabernet.

Fact 4

Zinfandel almost fell out of favour at right about the time that Chardonnay was starting to pick up steam.

In the 60s and early 1970s, American wine drinkers seemed to turn against the grape. However, the emergence of the white Zinfandel, which is actually closer to a Rosé, saved the grape. The wine’s booming popularity ensured that producers would need to keep making Zinfandel. It held over enough for the red variety of the wine to regain its former status.

Fact 5

Zinfandel is so beloved in the United States that it has its own promotional organisation.

It even has an event dedicated specifically to it, which is something that few other grapes can say.

The Final Word

Zinfandel and Chardonnay are two of the more recognisable grape varieties in the world. It would be unfair to discount the United States’ contributions to this fact.

Both grapes have proven exceptionally popular in the USA, up to the point where both have become essential to the American industries success.

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