Fantastic Fourth of July Wines from Emerging United States Wine Regions
June 28, 2019 – Forbes.com
By Michelle Williams
Fourth of July celebrations are as diverse as America. From backyard cookouts, wake-boarding at the lake, parades, fireworks, and baseball, there are many ways to usher in our nation’s birthday. Memories of barbeque, potato salad, and homemade ice cream, along with sparklers at the lake and always fireworks reminisce from my youth. Whatever your Independence Day entails, there is a wine to match.
Did you know wine is produced in all 50 states—it’s as American as apple pie. This year, instead of highlighting some of the nation’s most recognized wine regions, it’s time to explore a few lesser-known regions, and in some cases lesser known grapes, producing high-quality wine right here in the USA.
Michigan is not typically thought of as a wine region, yet viticulture here dates back to the 1800’s. Due to its extended coastline, most grapes grow within 25 miles of Lake Michigan, the cool climate region with wide diurnal shifts pose challenges, but the collaborative winemaking community is learning and improving each year. Home to five AVA’s, Michigan has about 3,050 acres of wine grapes planted, which has doubled over the past decade. Visit Michigan Wine Collaborative to learn more.
2017 Left Food Charley Kerner ($25): located in the Old Mission Peninusla AVA, a region known for producing quality cool-climate wines in a German or Austrian style; pale lemon; aromas of white peach, pear, Korean melon, white flowers, and crushed stone; lean and focused on the palate with nice acidity and a crisp vein of minerality, a slight waxy finish. As a long-time Kerner fan, I enjoy this wine. Like Riesling and Pinot Blanc? Try Kerner.
2017 Braganius Reserve Grüner Veltliner ($21.99): located in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA from the Oxley estate located in Lawton, BR wines are owned by St Julian, one of the state’s oldest wineries. Pale lemon; vibrant aromas of white flowers, grapefruit, lime zest, pineapple, and honey dew melon; dry and energetic, crisp and refreshing on the palate with round acidity and a zesty finish. Like Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño? Try Grüner Veltliner.
2016 Mari Vineyards Simplicissimus Brut Sparkling Riesling: lively bubbles illuminate lemon-driven aromas mingled with white flowers and citrus; lush mousse feels voluptuous on the palate, a fun and dangerously gulpable summer quencher that can also be a serious food wine.
2017 Mackinaw Trail Winery Marquette ($20): located in the Tip of the Mitt AVA, youngest in the state. Medium ruby with purple hues in the glass; aromas of dark berries, slightly jammed, damp underbrush, baking spice, crushed red flowers, dusty earth; palate is bright fruit driven with spice notes; an interesting grape that comes on strong and dies off mid-palate, yet easily drinkable and great with barbeque. This estate grown Marquette is a hybrid cool climate grape developed at the University of Minnesota.
New York’s Hudson Valley River Region
Although the Hudson Valley River Region’s viticulture pre-dates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it remains small, 159 acres under vine, comprising of only 10% of New York’s total wine production by 35 wineries. The region is home to a variety of Vitis Vinifera, hybrid grapes, and fruit juice grapes, such as Concord. It is known for its incredible soil diversity, cool breezes brought into the region from the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River, and New York’s shortest growing season, roughly 180-195 days.
2018 Fjord Vineyards Rosé of Cabernet Franc: Hailing from the Hudson River Region, this wine pours a pale salmon with lively aromas of ripe peach, strawberry, cherry, and watermelon; crisp and refreshing on the palate, easily gulpable.
2017 Glorie Rosé of Cabernet Franc ($17): located on Mt Zion Mountain in the Hudson River Valley; pale pink with loads of strawberry, cherry, and rhubarb aromas; crisp with tart red fruit on the palate.
2018 Benmarl Estate Grown Cabernet Franc ($23): medium ruby in the glass; red cherry, blackberry, baking spice, violets, touch of tomato leaf, and fresh tobacco; medium-bodied, lots of spice on the palate, integrated and earthy.
The first vineyards were established in Texas by Franciscan priests in 1662, making Texas the site of the first established vineyard in North America. The Prohibition years all but ended the Texas wine industry until its rebirth in the 1970’s with the founding of Llano Esctacado in the Texas High Plains Appellation. Today, Texas has the fifth largest acreage of wine grapes of any state, approximately 8,000 acres, encompassed within eight AVA’s.
2016 Ron Yates Viognier Texas Hill Country: Vibrant aromas of fresh picked white flowers, green apple, under-ripe white peach, pithy lemon juice and rind; rich palate with pleasing acidity and a broad mineral-driven finish.
2018 William Chris Vineyards Mary Ruth White Blend ($28): Crafted off 54% Moscato Giallo, 25% Banc du Bois, and 21% Malvasia Bianca; pale lemon with notes of Sweet Alyssum, orange blossom, lemon curd, and lime zest; although it delivers sweet aromas, on the palate it is dry as a bone, elegant, light, and super refreshing; a perfect summer wine.
2016 Ron Yates Sangiovese Texas High Plains: This is not your Italian Sangiovese, crafted in an elegant lighter style with notes of fresh red berries, crushed red floral notes, baking spice, dried herbs, and trailing smoke; a restrained palate that is light, fresh and highly pairable, with a focused mineral-driven finish.
2017 William Chris Vineyards Mourvèdre Texas High Plains ($34): light ruby in the glass; opens with red fruit, baking spice, roses, dried herbs, and black pepper; refined mouth-feel, juicy fruit mingles with earth notes, well integrated tannins provide excellent structure; long mineral-driven finish; anything braised, grilled, barbequed, or stewed goes with this wine.
Did you know Virginia is one of the oldest wine regions in the United States? Twelve years after English colonists settled in Jamestown, a law was passed requiring each male colonist to plant and tend to a minimum of ten grape vines. In 1773, the Virginia Wine Company (membership included Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and George Mason) devoted 2,000 acres of land toward a vineyard and winery in Monticello. Prohibition ended much of Virginia’s success, until the 1970’s, when Vitis Vinifera began to flourish again. Today, nearly 300 wineries call Virginia home. Here are four 2019 Virginia Governor’s Cup Winners. To learn more visit Virginia Wine.
2016 Horton Vineyards Petit Manseng ($25): Crafted of 90% Petit Manseng, 5% Early Pick Viogner, and 5% Rkatsiteli; bright lemon; highly aromatic with notes of white flowers, grilled pineapple, candied ginger; orchard and stone fruit, with a lingering sherry-style quality; notes sing in harmony on the palate on top of a vein of minerality; rich and elegant yet racy, textural with a long finish. Suggested to serve with a slight chill, not cold.
2017 Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve ($22.99): pale lemon; loads of lemon, white flowers, and almonds on the nose; palate is elegant, full, almost creamy with great texture, body, and lean acidity; almond trails on the finish.
2015 Michael Shaps Tannat ($35): This wine is crafted in a Madiran style, pouring deep ruby with dark purple hues; aromas of blackberry, marion berry, black raspberry, black cherry mingle with baking spice, crushed roses, black pepper, dried tobacco, graphite, and trailing smoke; lean and focused palate with long grippy tannins, red fruit notes evolve mid-palate, long black pepper, smoke finish.
2016 Early Mountain Vineyards Eluvium ($38): Crafted from a blend of 56% Merlot and 44% Petit Verdot; dark aromas of black and red fruit, a touch jammed, baking spice, crushed violets, dried herbs, sweet tobacco, and vanilla; it offers great palate structure, bold and a rustic with earth driven notes; a bit of grip makes this an ideal BBQ wine
Washington’s Prosser Wine Country in Yakima Valley is the birthplace of the Washington wine industry, yet remains largely unknown. Located equal distance from Seattle and Portland, about 3 hours by car, Prosser is home to over 30 wineries and 20,000 acres of vineyards. Grapes from this region are grown on original rootstock and sourced from winemakers throughout Washington State. The majority of residents are employed in agriculture, predominately in the wine industry.
2017 Chinook Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley ($18.99): pale lemon; delicate aromas of lemon zest, grapefruit, fresh picked herbs, and crushed stone; palate is quintessential Sauvignon Blanc—crisp, clean, and refreshing.
2015 Coyote Canyon Winery Barbera ($26): Inviting notes of blackberry, marion berry, black raspberry, baking spice, red flowers, tobacco, dark chocolate, and black pepper; voluptuous palate, lean tannins, focused finish.
2016 Alexandria Nicole Block 17 Syrah Destiny Ridge Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills ($45): Crafted of 90% Syrah, 8% Grenache, and 2% Viognier; a deep ruby wine with notes of slightly jammed black and red fruit, baking spice, black pepper, violets, dark chocolate covered bacon, and trailing vanilla; plush mouth-feel with opulent tannins and silky acidity, lean with focused minerality on the medium finish.