About AustriaThe country of Austria is steadily growing in both wine production and quality. The rise in popularity can be partly attributed to the success of Grüner Veltliner, the most-planted grape of Austria. As a landlocked country Austria has a decidedly continental climate. Most Austrian wine comes from the region of Lower Austria, which happens to be located in the northeast corner of the country, but called as such because of its lower elevation level. Within Lower Austria are many sub-regions, the most well-known being Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal. To the south of Lower Austria is Burgenland, known for producing good reds and sweet whites. Styria is the furthest south, on the border of Slovenia and produces very little of Austria's total wine production. Wein, or Vienna, is its own region as well, a little enclave inside of Lower Austria.
Notable FactsBeyond the delicious Grüner Veltliner, Austria's white grape varieties include Riesling, which can make both sweet and dry wines, Weschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc and some Weissburgunder, (we know it as Pinot Blanc). In reds the best grapes are Blaufränkisch, a red grape also found in Germany, which creates wines that are strong and structured, and usually from Burgenland. Another red coming out of the country is the indigenous crossing (one of the parents is Blaufrankisch), Zweigelt (zuh-VYE-gelt). This is a big and fruity red, usually best drunk young, and quite pleasing.
Austrian Wine Laws & LevelsLike Germany, wine quality is determined by the must weight of the grapes when picked – in other words, the ripeness level. Austria is fairly strict when it comes to their wine laws. The first level of quality is Tafelwein, regular table wine and by far the most produced. Next is Landwein, one step up from Table wine and with more regulations.
About Other USEvery state in the United States makes wine. That's not to say that every wine is good, nor is every wine made from grapes. Hawaii ferments pineapples, while Connecticut makes wines from their well-known berry farms. But almost every state has at least one vineyard trying to make wine from grapes. Those who are most successful, beyond California, Washington, Oregon and New York are:
VirginiaWine in Virginia has come a long way since Thomas Jefferson unsuccessfully planted vinifera grapes at his home in Monticello. Our third president, known as the first American wine connoisseur, spent a good amount of time touring vineyards in France, hoping he could replicate the vineyards in Virginia. May not have been successful 200 years ago, but today, the Commonwealth of Virginia is home to over 150 wineries.
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most widely planted white and red grapes. Other success stories include Cabernet Franc, which does very well on Virginia soil, producing wines that are ripe and round, snuffing out the vegetal tendencies of this varietal. Viognier may be the next big white, making some lovely aromatic, yet dry, white wines.
New MexicoChampagne region after all), Gruet is now a nationally recognized wine. The wines are delicious and one of the best deals in sparkling wine. The family makes a range of wines - from the ethereal and efferevesant blanc de blancs to the more full-bodied blanc-de-noir to the slightly sweet demi-sec.
New Mexico is now home to nineteen wineries. While none are as large as Gruet, more winemakers are realizing that the warm day and cool night combination in the state has great potential for great wine.Other states worth trying include North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Idaho and Michigan.