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A Quick History Lesson

The Beginning of Wine

Wine can be traced back to 6000 B.C. In 3000 B.C., wine was cultivated in Egypt, and by about 1500 B.C. wine was in Greece. By 1000 B.C., it had reached Italy, Sicily and North Africa, and in the next 500 years, wine reached Spain, Portugal, France, southern Russia, northern Europe and Great Britain.

Cathedrals, churches and especially the multiplying monasteries owned or created most of the greatest vineyards of Europe. Much of the land was given to the Catholic Church by departing crusaders and dying winegrowers. The Church used wine not only as the Blood of Christ, but also for their own enjoyment.

History of Grapes
The grape vine was introduced into California the late 1700s a by Spanish priests who, along with Spanish soldiers and settlers from Spain, built their chain of missions along the coast of California. They planted vines, known as the mission grape, to make wine required for the ritual of Catholic mass. Also, being of Mediterranean culture, they enjoyed wine with their meals.

As more European immigrants came to California, they brought with them their own wine-making traditions. Experimenting with European grape varieties, they tried to duplicate French, Italian and German wines, giving them names like Burgundy or Chianti, named after regions of their native countries.

By 1847, when California became part of the United States, the commercial wine industry was thriving. During the gold rush days, droves of entrepreneurs and hopeful miners flooded California and the wine industry soared.

European "Roots"
Winemakers in the states of New York and Ohio gained much recognition in Europe for their wines made from American grape varieties. Settlers traveled back and forth to Europe to bring back vine cuttings to America, thus expanding existing vineyards and establishing new ones.

Grape vines from the eastern states of North America, introduced to Europe for experimental grafting, were responsible for bringing the devastating phylloxera "vine louse" plague to Europe in the 1860s. As the grape vine cuttings were re-imported to the United States, the plague spread. A solution eventually was found by grafting European vines to American wild-grape root stock resistant to phylloxera.

Present Day Wineries
Today there are about 750 wineries in California, stretching from the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, located north of San Francisco, to the Russian River region, up to the Anderson Valley, inland to El Dorado County and the Sierra Foothills, down the Central Coast, to the Livermore Valley, Santa Clara Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Carmel Valley, and all the way to south of Santa Barbara. Out of the 58 counties in California, 54 grow wine grapes, covering 407,000 acres. Each year, about 10 million people visit California's wine-growing areas.

With New York's approximately 100 wineries, it makes New York ranks as the second largest producer, after California. Washington and Oregon together have more than 160 wineries.

Many more wineries have been established in over 30 states in the U.S., ranging from small, family-owned wineries, to big, ultra-modern wine-making facilities. Winemakers in California and other North American wine regions are known for producing some of the best-quality wines in the world.