United States

Top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers

Ah the ubiquitous list. Everywhere you turn these days there is a top 10, the best 50, or some iteration of a who’s who list. So we can’t resist, besides, our Top 100 Most Influential Wine Industry list scored a lot of buzz, created a lot of chatter and even made a few enemies. This list is all about winemakers, those currently making wine here in America – not the great ones who have come before, but folks who make wines you can find now. There are some 7,000 bonded wineries in the U.S., and there’s a lot of forgettable wine being made. And in a world of homogenization of wine styles and a sense that our domestic wine industry is not legitimate without a French or Italian flare, we desire to promote regional flavor profiles of all American wine craftspeople. There are names here you’ll know and recognize, and names you never heard of but everyone on this list is influencing the public, fellow winemakers and the media in large and small ways. Use this list to learn about wines, varieties and regions you may not have considered; comment on it, share it with everyone, but above all continue your joy of being IntoWine.

Q&A with Caleb Foster, Winemaker at Buty Winery, Washington

Throughout a winemaking career spanning two decades, three continents and with experience gleaned from working at wineries like Woodward Canyon, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Rapaura Vintners, and Bookwalter, Caleb Foster has established himself as one of Washington State’s best winemakers. As the winemaker for Buty, which he founded with his wife, Nina Buty Foster in 2000, he has created an acclaimed portfolio of Washington State wines that includes several pioneering blends, and are some of the defining wines of Washington winemaking.

Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley: Foods to Pair With, and Meals that Call for, Willamette Valley Pinot

Great Pinot Noir—the Holy Grail of winemakers from France to Australia and the US, and one of the most notoriously difficult grapes to grow. The thin-skinned varietal is susceptible to rot, viruses and diseases and needs a perfectly cool climate and exacting vineyard management to thrive. After the grapes are harvested the winemaker has plenty of decisions to make, including whether or not to fine and filter the wine, how much tannin the final product should have and choosing a precise regimen of oak aging, since Pinot’s delicate flavors can easily be masked by the flavors of wood. It’s easy to make a disappointing, thin-tasting wine from this grape, but really fine Pinot is the stuff of the gods and the combination of ripe fruit and spice flavors, low tannin and high acid make Pinot Noir one of the most food friendly wines in the world.

Ohio/Michigan Vintage Chart

Ohio/Michigan    
2010 88 D
2009 83 D
2008 85

Washington State Reds Vintage Chart

Washington State Reds    
2009 88 D/H
2008 89 D/H
2007

Pennsylvania Wines: Adding the Numbers at Winfield Winery

Pennsylvania doesn’t spring to mind when you think of wine, and yet there are 140 wineries in the state. Equally important is that William Penn, for whom the state was named, planted the very first vinifera vines in America in 1683, and that the very first commercial vineyard in the U.S. was planted by the Pennsylvania Wine Company in 1793. Therefore, it all begins to add up.

New Jersey Wine's Rise to Quality: Alba Vineyards

It might seem surprising to know that New Jersey, the self proclaimed Garden State, is actually fairly prolific in producing wine. Whereas the majority of wines coming from New Jersey are sweet, native grapes like catawba, vidal blanc and concord, a few wineries are upping the ante for the lucrative wine game on the East Coast. Alba Vineyards are currently on an aggressive growth streak with a wide portfolio of wines that are winning medals at diverse competitions like the Finger Lakes Wine Competition the, Dallas Morning News Wine Competition and the Los Angeles Wine Competition.

Find Alba Vineyard Wines 

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