Monday, March 27, 2006

Roger Morris, The News Journal, says Eastern Vineyards Challenge West's Dominance

In the February 15, 2006 edition of The News Journal, wine writer Roger Morris reported on The Business Monthly’s report on American wine making. Mr. Morris wrote, “In the world of American wine, there's the West Coast, and there's Everyone Else. But everyone Else -- the regional wineries of the East Coast, South, Southwest and the Plains -- keeps growing and prospering and might even be threatening Western dominance.

“A review by the industry magazine Wine Business Monthly says that there are more than 5,300 wineries in the United States today, and a little more than half of those -- 2,740 -- are in California. Washington comes next with 418, and then Oregon with 317.

“Rounding out the Top 5 are East Coast wineries -- New York, once the center of American winemaking, with 252, and neighboring Pennsylvania, No. 5 with 130.

“The rest of the Top 10 are, in order, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and -- I'm surprised -- Colorado. New Jersey is No. 14 (52 wineries), Maryland is No. 21 (32), and Delaware, the First State, is last when it comes to wineries with only one -- Nassau Valley Vineyards near Lewes. Even the urban District of Columbia has three wineries, perhaps one for each branch of government.

Morris noted that many sales at these wineries come from folks who live within the states’ borders. “But it's easy to find wines in any store nationally from California, Washington and Oregon. New York wineries have some sales in the Northeast, and you may see an occasional wine from Texas. A surprise is New Mexico, whose Gruet sparkling wines distributes its 80,000 cases in 47 states. Just about everything else is regional.”

He also went on to point out the fact that the quality of the wines coming from these wineries has improved as well. “Throughout the United States, local wineries are beginning to become huge tourist attractions, as they concentrate on making quality table wines and elegant dessert wines that no longer taste like cough syrup.”

“Within the last four years, the local Brandywine Valley wine scene has grown from being essentially a very good one-act business -- Chaddsford -- into multiple wineries concentrating on a variety of wines.

“Six of those wineries -- Chaddsford, Va La, Folly Hill, Paradocx, Kreutz Creek and Twin Brook -- have created an explosive promotional unit, the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. In March, it kicks off its third season with “Barrels on the Brandywine.”

“Barrels” is a promotion featuring samples of wines from the 2005 vintage, lots food and lively entertainment. Last year, hundreds of people bought passports good for tastings at all six wineries. (Go to for information.)

“And the Brandywine region continues to grow as local vineyard owners ponder becoming winemakers. It may not be California, but being No. 5 is still not so bad.

I'm a little late telling you about barrels on the brandywine, but you should spend a little time exploring more about Pennsylvania wines. I'm telling you, they are coming on!

Roger Morris has written about wines for years and regularly visits the winegrowing areas of the world. Write to him at The News Journal, Box 15505, Wilmington, DE 19850; fax 324-2415; or e-mail