A few years ago, the editor of a national magazine based in Washington, D.C., asked if I could write a monthly wine column for him.
We chatted about the idea, and during the conversation I said that among the topics I found fascinating about wine was the many places in the United States where fine wines were being produced.
He asked for an example, and I said that right in his own backyard, Virginia was making some stellar wines.
“Virginia!?” he said, nearly gagging. “Virginia makes (terrible wine)!” His actual phrase was much less polite.
I asked when he had last tasted a Virginia wine. He said about 15 years earlier. Well, I said, times have changed and many wineries in Virginia today are making stellar, world-class wines.
We never agreed on a way for me to write a wine column for his magazine, and I was convinced he believed I was an idiot for thinking that Virginia was really making fine wine.
It's not surprising in light of the fact that some of the best wines made in the United States today are even disparaged in their own hometowns.
Yet I have seen wines from all over North America come of age in the 35-plus years I have written about wine. Today there are terrific wines being made in places some people didn't even know had wineries. Here are just a few.
New York: Most wine lovers now know of this state's great rieslings, notably from the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. But recently we have seen a leap forward by red wines as well as a number of others, such as sparkling and dessert wines.
Pennsylvania: A handful of upscale wineries, headed by Chaddsford in the Brandywine Valley and Galen Glen in the Lehigh Valley, are making splendid wines.
Michigan: Statewide, a vibrant wine industry is making great strides. The leaders are in the north, such as Left Foot Charley, Chateau Grand Traverse, Black Star Farms, Brys Estate and Bel Lago. Although riesling once was Michigan's calling card, today the state is developing a wide range of excellent wines.