Wines Across America
Hang around a wine geek long enough and you will inevitably hear the word "terroir." It is a term coined by the French to explain the influence of a particular vineyard site on the structure and taste of the wines produced there.
Terroir takes into account factors such as sunshine, soil composition and annual rainfall. This is the reason vineyard-designate wines typically cost more than more generic regional wines.
The concept of terroir can be viewed in a broader context as well. While wine is produced in all 50 states, it would be fair to say some states are more successful than others with the most popular grape varieties. From a consumer's point of view, knowing which grapes do well in which states provides a good first step in the never-ending quest to find good wine.
Here is a brief rundown of the most popular grape varieties and the states where they tend to thrive:
Cabernet Franc -- Virginia, New York, California.
Cabernet Sauvignon -- California, Washington, Virginia.
Chardonnay -- California, Washington and Oregon.
Gewurztraminer -- New York, California, Washington.
Gruner Veltliner -- New York, California.
Merlot -- Washington, California, New York.