American and Canadian wine for dummies

America is a huge content, there wine is considered to be new world and vineyards are found, north, east, south and west. 

The united states

  • California produces approximately 90% of all American wine followed by new York Washington and Oregon


The AVA system and label requirements

AVA = American viticultural area

  • an AVA is only an indication of geographic origin and does not require producers to adhere to any particular guidelines
  • if a label lists an AVA 85% of the grapes used must come from the originated site
  • California and oregan must be made solely from grapes in these areas
  • Labeled Washington must contain 95%


  • if labelled by country, state or county = 75%
  • if labeled AVA = 85%
  • single vineyard = 95%
  • name and address of bottler



  • the major winegrowing regions of California are divided in 4 AVA’s
  1. north coast AVA
  2. Central coast AVA
  3. South coast AVA
  4. Seirra foothills AVA


  • Main grape varitels of California are: Chardonnay, sav blanc, pinot noir, merlot, cab sav and zinfandel


California: The north Coast

  • napa Valley AVA
  • Sonoma Valley AVA
  • Mendocino AVA
  • Lake AVA
  • Solano AVA
  • Marin AVA


Napa Valley

  • formed by the mayacama mountains to the west and vaca mountains to the east
  • the soil is made up of alluvial and maritime soils
  • the fruit tends to be more elegant and supple on the coast
  • chardonnay from the napa is generally opulent, weight, buttery and oak driven

(Calistoga, diamond mountain district, spring mountain district, st.helena, Rutherford, Oakville, stage leap district, mount veeder, Yountville, carneros, wild horse valley, oak knoll district, atlas peak, chiles valley, howell mountain)



Sanoma county

  • lies between napa county and the pacific coast

(Alexander valley, dry creek valley, rockpile, Bennett valley, knights valley, chalk hill, Russian river, sanoma valley, Sonoma mountain, Sonoma coast, sorthern Sonoma and carneros)

  • the altitude, cold ocean air and persistant fog keep temperatures down
  • pinot noir and chardonnay thrive here ( especially in Russian river)
  • carneros is home to the sparkling houses



  • Cole ranch (smallest AVA in the USA)
  • Zinfandel thrives here and it is the smallest wine producing ava in the north coast

(Mendocino, Mendocino ridge, Anderson valley, potter valley, redwood valley, McDowell valley, Yorkville highlands, dos rios, cole ranch, Covelo)


California – the central coast

  • the central coast spans from san Francisco in the north to Santa Barbara in the south
  • inland has success with sav blanc
  • chardonnay is prominenet as well as pinot noir around the santa lucia highlands

(monetary, santa lucia highlands, chalone, hames valley, carmel valley, san Antonio, san bernabe, san lucas)


San luis Obispo and santa barabara

  • san luis grows rhone varietals, zinfandel and cabernet sav the sub ava’s are (paso robles, arroyo grande, york mountain and edna valley)
  • santa Barbara grows pinot noir and chardonnay, sav blanc and merlot with the sub ava’s (santa maria valley, santa ynez valley, sta.rita hills, happy canyon)


California – Central valley and sierra foothills

  • 20% of californias wine production which is mostly low quality zinfandel



  • Willamette valley is famous here for having a lighter, earthier, riper style of pinot noir.
  • Its got a mild, temperate and rainy climate
  • The soil is made up of silt, volcanic and sedimentary bedrock
  • Grapes: chardonnay, pinot blanc, Riesling, pinot noir, cab sav, gewertz, syrah
  • Wines labeled by an AVA with oregan must contain 95% of grapes grown in that appellation

Willamete valley AVA (chehalem mountains, ribbon ridge, yamhill, Dundee hills, mcminnville, eola)

Southern oregan AVA( red hills Douglas county, umpaqua valley, applegate valley, rogue valley)

Columbia valley AVA (Columbia gorge, walla walla valley)


  • second largest producer of quality wines with every AVA but 1 located to the east of the cascades
  • Columbia valley is washingtons largest AVA
  • The soil is comprised of basal bedrock, thin alluvial soil
  • The main grapes are chardonnay and reisling as well as cabernet, merlot and syrah

AVA’s (Puget sounds, Columbia Valley, walla walla valley, horse heaven hills lake chelan and Columbia gorge)


New York

  • cold temperatures here are mitigated by the great lakes, the growing season is almost 3 weeks longer here

(Long island, Hudson river, finger lakes, lake erie, niagra escarpment)



  • inniskillin created an international reputation for canadian icewine (the grapes must reach a temperature of -8 C, made from Riesling)
  • wines from Ontario or british colombia must be made from 100% of grapes grown in their respective provence 

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