Wine Comes From…

Crabapples, Pineapples and Other Adventures

Wine, few other libations can elicit as much praise as it does debate. More than any other drink that humanity has had the fortune of enjoying, wine is rife with rules and norms regulating how it is produced, served, and consumed. However, some of us aren’t very knowledgeable on grape varieties, their flavor profiles, or how to even drink them. Sometimes these uncertainties intimidates us and limits our enjoyment of the drink. However, many of us have the same questions:

“What’s the difference between rose and blush?”

“Am I a philistine for being unable to taste the difference between a 2012 and 2013 vintage?”

“Will my friends and family disown me for drinking a Chardonnay with my T-bone?”

Wine is an art form and a continuous learning experience—from the neophyte to sommelier. While certain practices are adhered to, nothing is set in stone and you should ultimately do whatever it is that you enjoy.

Discussing everything there is to know about wine would take a lifetime. But, we need to start somewhere. Where better to start than what it’s made from?  In the first of what we hope will be a series of educative installments regarding the wine industry, WineAmerica presents: Wine Comes From…

Wine comes from this:


No, this was not a mistake made by our questionably competent intern. We are showing a pineapple to illustrate a point. Most people believe wine is exclusively made from grapes. This is only the tip of the iceberg.  From fruit wine, to mead, and cider, all these varieties fall under the umbrella of “wine”.  If you don’t believe us, check out the TTB’s definition here.

Don’t be dismayed if you weren’t even aware of these non-traditional wines. Whether this shortfall of knowledge reflects an adherence to traditionalism, lack of interest, or indecipherability of federal regulation we owe it to ourselves to become more educated about everything wine has to offer.

Non-traditional wine represents the fastest growing sector of the domestic wine industry. Demand for these wines has grown by more than 89% in the last year alone. Cider has more than tripled in gross production and value.

Much like wine grape varieties speak to the pride and place of origin, non-traditional fruit wines also carry their own cultural and historic significance. America’s love affair with non-traditional wine dates back to the first English settlers. Finding nothing but inedible crabapples, colonists quickly proceeded to import English apple seeds and cultivate cider-apples. While apple trees had little trouble taking to New England soil, it was significantly more difficult to cultivate barley and grains for beer and spirits. Cider became the beverage of choice for early America, with people like John Adams drinking a tankard every morning.

Preference for this cultural staple ebbed and flowed, but Prohibition dealt the non-traditional wine industry a near irreconcilable blow.  Fruit wines were particularly hard-pressed to recover from Prohibition and the Temperance Movement. While many breweries, distilleries, and winemakers survived these dark times by producing a range of goods from sodas to refrigerated cabinets, cider orchards and fruit wine producers had less flexibility. In addition to outlawing fruit based wines, the Volstead Act limited production of sweet cider to 200 gallons a year per orchard. Prohibitionists burned countless fields of trees to the ground and surviving orchards were forced to begin cultivating sweeter (non-cider) apples. American affinity for cider and fruit wine struggled to return following the repeal of Prohibition.  While breweries, distilleries, and wineries could go back into production almost immediately, it would take decades to convert the orchards back from snacking and cooking apples to wine and cidermaking apples.

Now almost a hundred years later, the growth of cider and fruit wine—or rather, the comeback—is both heartening and astounding. Whether its resurgence has piggybacked off the farm-to-table movement or is a reflection of changing consumption trends for millennials; a sizable contingent of consumers are more interested in seeking out uniquely local flavors.

There are currently over 700 American wineries that produce fruit wine, ciders, and honey wines. The market for domestic non-traditional wine is in its infancy and promises to expand. From Hawaiian pineapple wine, Georgia peach wine, to Vermont cider, fruit wines are increasingly recognized for complex flavor profiles in the wine industry.

For our next installment, we are looking to highlight regional grape varieties in the domestic wine industry. Send us your suggestions on Twitter!

2015 Wine & Grape Policy Conference

April 16 – Washington D.C.

We have wrapped up the 2015 National Wine & Grape Policy Conference here in Washington D.C. It has been an active two days! The cherry blossoms were in bloom as members of WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America gathered for two days of policy discussions.

The board of directors meeting minutes are available for members in the member’s only section.

The leading issues facing our industry include Canada potentially leveraging retaliatory tariffs on imported  American wine. Canada is the largest consumer of American wine, with 1 billion in sales. Tariffs would deeply damage sales and cost market share for years to come. TTB funding was also a leading issue. The TTB is underfunded, leading to long wait times for label approval and other regulatory issues. WineAmerica is asking Congress to appropriate additional funds to streamline the regulatory process. Panel discussions included subjects on immigration, tax reform and sustainability.

Look at WineAmerica’s positions on these issues and more.

The WineAmerica board meeting included welcoming Donnie Winchell of the Ohio Wine Producers Association as chair of the State and Regional Association Advisory Council. Thank you to  the out-going chair Kevin Atticks from the Maryland Wine Association for his work during his three year term. WineAmerica also welcomed its newest member Treasury Wine Estates. Debra Dommen, Vice-President of Government and Community Affairs was in attendance. Treasury’s California holdings include Beringer and Chateau St. Jean.

Tuesday morning featured Representative Mike Thompson as the keynote speaker. Mr. Thompson (D CA-5) as long been a supporter of the wine industry, including co-founding the Congressional Wine Caucus in 1999.

After hearing from policy experts, WineAmerica members went to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives. Lead by government affairs team Myers & Associates, WineAmerica leadership met with the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Rep. Michael Conaway (R TX-11), staff from the Majority Senate Agriculture Committee and staff from the Minority Senate Agriculture Committee, and the Senior Policy Advisor to Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader.

The conference culminated with a wine tasting featuring 78 wines from 38 wineries in 25 states. Members of Congress were able to try wines from their home districts and sample wines from non-traditional regions. You can view the photos here. Thank you to all the WineAmerica members who provided wine.

The next WineAmerica meeting will be held in Lexington, KY October 26-27. The Fall Meeting will bring together the local and the national industry, will feature policy education and interaction with congressional offices in their home district.

Stay tuned for the WineAmerica board meeting minutes. They will be sent out next week and posted to the members only section of the WineAmerica website.

Thank you for supporting 2015 National Wine & Grape Policy Conference. We look forward to seeing you in Kentucky!

Thank you to all the members who provided wine.


Dos Cabezas WineWorks


Cakebread Cellars

Jackson Family Wines

Paraiso Vineyards

Treasury Wine Estates


Bookcliff Vineyards


Philip Jamison Jones Winery


Tiger Mountain Vineyards


Bitner Vineyards


Blue Sky Vineyard

Illinois Sparkling Company


Oliver Winery


Tassel Ridge Winery


Boordy Vineyards


Chateau Grand Traverse

St. Julian Wine Company


Les Bourgeois Vineyards


Mac’s Creek Vineyards and Winery

New Jersey

Hopewell Valley Vineyards

New Mexico

Matheson Wine Company

New York

Anthony Road Wine Company

Bedell Cellars

North Carolina

Childress Vineyards

Raffaldini Vineyards


Ferrante Winery

Valley Vineyards



Wooldridge Creek Winery


Mazza Vineyards

Paradocx Vineyards


Stonehaus Winery


Brennan Vineyards

Haak Vineyards


Breaux Vineyards

Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery


L’Ecole No 41, Maryhill Winery


Wollersheim Winery

National Wine Policy Bulletin: March

WineAmerica’s National Wine Policy Bulletin is a summary of legislation and trends directly from the local sources. Each month we compile a digest of federal and regional issues, contributed by our State Associations Council and sent to our nationwide membership. The National Wine Policy Bulletin is your nationwide snapshot of wine policy through the eyes WineAmerica here in Washington, DC and from local players around the country.

If you are a member, you can search past installments, or look-up issues by subject or state. Not a member yet? Join today to receive this valuable resource.

Latest Bulletin

March 2015

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has issued a rule change regarding how some wineries will be able to file their excise tax.  Depending on size and production scale, some may be able to start filing annually as opposed to semi-monthly or quarterly.  Congress is in the midst of debating several bills which could change how cider is defined and how craft beer is taxed.  On the state level, South Dakota and Oklahoma have taken substantive steps towards the direct-shipping of wine and California has taken a stand against Canadian protectionist policies.

Log-in as a member in the upper-left hand corner to view content.  You can also see a PDF copy in the Members Only section.

Not a member? Join today!

Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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5 Presidents we want to drink wine with


Wine has been with us since the earliest days of our nation.  The pilgrims were even purported to have landed at Plymouth Rock because they had run out of alcohol.  Whether you believe these tales or not, wine and alcohol have played a critical role in the development of the Americas and this President’s Day WineAmerica would like to celebrate the holiday by looking at our country’s past leaders and their White House wine indulgences.  Here are the top 5 Presidents we want to have a glass of wine with.

George WashingtonGW

In an era where there was little to do in terms of entertainment other than wear powdered wigs and chop wood, it may come as no surprise that people looked towards the consumption of alcohol for reprieve.  George Washington was no exception, and reportedly spent $6,000 on alcohol in a period of seven months between 1775 and 1776; most of it on his beloved Madeira wine.

Interestingly enough, Madeira wine played an incredibly large role in the early history of the United States of America. The 13 colonies were incapable of growing wine quality grapes, so they looked towards imports, particularly Madeira, to meet their alcohol needs.  Fortified with spirits and treated at unusually high temperatures, Madeira wine managed to survive the long voyage to the Americas without spoiling.  In fact, Madeira was so beloved that the Founding Fathers used 50 bottles of it to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  This accompanied another 60 bottles of Claret and 22 bottles of port, quite the party for 56 delegates.

While we respect the great man’s choice of beverage, one cannot help but imagine him perched on the prow of a dingy crossing the Delaware with a goblet of Madeira and saber in hand.

It is by no coincidence there is a biannual wine festival on the grounds of Mount Vernon each spring and fall. Our first president would be proud of the wines made by his fellow native Virginians.


Thomas JeffersonTJ

Thomas Jefferson is a well recognized name in wine circles.  While we hope it would be for his impeccable taste and love for the art, more likely than not it is due to the fact that he has been infamously associated with wine scams carrying his namesake for years.  Regardless of how you look at his name in the industry, Jefferson was a wine aficionado.  As an ambassador to France, he gained a fine appreciation for French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese wines.  While he was said to favor Madeira and Bordeaux, his vast collection contained everything imaginable.  He was so enamored with his libations that when laying out his famed home, Monticello, he not only laid out a cider room, but built an extraordinary wine cellar to house his valuable collection of purchases.

While the jury is still out on whether a “cider room” is a real thing, we can confirm that he was spot on when he said “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. Wine brightens the life and thinking of anyone”.

Jefferson’s ventures in the wine industry did not stop there.  He even tried his hand at being a vintner and while a spectacular failure, he pioneered wine cultivation in Virginia and would take delight in seeing how the industry has flourished since.


Richard NixonRN

As brazen as they come, Richard Nixon holds the distinction of being the last President to serve Bordeaux in the White House; however, by many accounts this was mostly to himself.  Nixon loved his wine, and did not shy away from imbibing on the good stuff.  When entertaining his guests, Tricky Dick  was widely reported to have his aides pour him the excellent and expensive Chateau Margaux from a bottle hidden from sight, while serving his guests lesser wines.




Ronald ReaganRR

A California native and avid supporter of the domestic wine industry, Ronald Reagan is known for revolutionizing the way the White House looked at American wine.  Not only did he exclusively serve American sparkling wine in lieu of Champagne, but he is the first President to ever serve a Zinfandel at an official event.  His love of California wine was so great in fact, that upon moving to D.C. he sent himself a private supply of wine from Beaulieu Vineyards, Sterling, and Stag’s Leap.  Reagan went above and beyond to showcase everything American wine had to offer, and in doing so set a precedent that is observed even today.



Honorable mention… Benjamin FranklinBF

No, we did not fail middle school civics and we are aware that Benjamin Franklin was not a president.  However, he was a founding father and his face graces our currency, so that is good enough for us.

Besides being a diplomat, statesman, inventor, scientist, and theorist, Benjamin Franklin was an accomplished author and publisher.  His own words do his love of the drink more justice than we ever could:

“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”

“When Wine enters, out goes the Truth.”

“Never spare the Parson’s wine, nor the Baker’s pudding.”

“The discovery of wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation.  The universe is too full of stars.”

“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

(Yes, often misquoted as “Beer is sure proof…”, a little research shows his true intent was wine.)

“Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water.”

WineAmerica wishes you all a Happy President’s Day!  Keep the celebration going and share your tidbit of Presidential wine trivia via Twitter.


Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser at or 202-223-5172.

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National Wine Policy Bulletin – February Installment

Log-in as a member in the upper-left hand corner to view content.  You can also see a PDF copy in the Members Only section.
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The beginning of 2015 featured two major political events including the State of the Union and the announcement of the President’s FY 2016 budget blueprint.  Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Indiana make large strides towards direct shipping of wine.  Alaska’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board reassesses its criminal classifications regarding the sales and consumption of alcohol.  The concerns over California’s ongoing drought are broached by an interagency contingency plan.

WineAmerica’s National Wine Policy Bulletin summary of legislation and trends directly from the local sources. Each month we compile a digest of federal and regional issues, contributed by our State Associations Council and sent to our nationwide membership. The National Wine Policy Bulletin is your nationwide snapshot of wine policy through the eyes WineAmerica here in Washington, DC and from local players around the country.