- All Community
Beer generally garners most of the beverage attention on the Fourth of July – and why not? Not much can beat an all-American cold, frosty beer as you lay out on the beach or hit the grill on a hot Independence Day. But today the Winestyr team wants to tell you about another great American beverage – wine. Skeptical? Read on.
Wine has a storied history in our great country. It is well-accepted that the founding fathers were big wine fans – Benjamin Franklin said that wine (not beer, as this quote is often written) is “a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy” and the writers and signatories of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution toasted these great documents with many bottles of wine from Portugal and France.
However, it was Thomas Jefferson who deserves the most credit for promoting wine in early America. Jefferson spent a considerable portion of his presidential salary on wine, and when he was not president he advised the White House on what wines to stock in its cellars. Jefferson amassed a large collection of wine for himself at his estate in Monticello, and even brought back vines from his travels to France to try to grow grapes on the property. Though that attempt was a failure, the great American winemaking tradition was just taking hold.
That tradition really began to grow with the planting of vines in what is now Napa Valley. George Yount, a true frontiersman who spent time as a soldier, fur trapper, and ultimately grape grower, is generally credited with being the first to plant vines in Napa. In fact, Yountville, today home to many of Napa’s best known restaurants – such as French Laundry and Redd – is named in his honor.
Napa was fully established as an excellent place to grow grapes in the late 1800s, when men such as Charles Krug (whose original vineyards are now owned by Mondavi) and Jacob Beringer began growing grapes and making excellent wine. From Napa, vineyards and wineries spread across California, north to Oregon and Washington, and to the rest of the country. Though Prohibition slowed the industry’s rapid expansion, after its repeal the growth continued apace. Today, 49 of the 50 states grow their own grapes and make wine, with frigid Alaska as the sole exception to the United States of Wine.
So, this Fourth of July, consider grabbing an American wine in addition to a six-pack of your favorite hoppy lager or pale ale. Need some advice on what wines to pick? For simply sipping and beating the heat, pick up a refreshing white wine such as a sauvignon blanc, gruner vetliner, gurwurztraminner, or dry Riesling. If you’re grilling and want something more substantial, go for a lighter red wine, such as a pinot noir, zinfandel, or syrah. Domestic winemakers make excellent versions of all of these, so you can patriotically toast the founding of our nation with a glass of all-American wine.