Coast to Coast: USA Wine Rivalry
In the United States, both the west and east coasts of the country produce many great wines. But the oft-asked question remains, “Are wines from the West Coast better than those from the East Coast?” The USA wine rivalry can be intense.
QUALITY, QUANTITY, AND GROWING ENVIRONMENT
First, there is no question that vineyards and winemaking have been better established, and for a much longer period of time, on the West Coast than those on the East Coast. Secondly, the West Coast produces not only more quantity of wines, but also the types of wines are greater in number. But does this make West Coast wines better?
Experts in the wine business all agree that, for the most part, the quality of West Coast wines is better than those made from the East Coast. This has more to do with the climate and the growing environment for grapes than anything else.
SUNSHINE AND TEMPERATURES
To start with, the West Coast has not only long hours of sunshine but many hotter days than the East Coast. This is vital as all vines require ample sunlight to help increase the color, tannins, and flavor of the grapes. The right amount of sunshine, warm temperatures, and soil are very important factors in determining who wins the USA wine rivalry.
On the East Coast, where the temperatures often do not get very warm, this often leads to grapes that are acidic or have an astringent taste (dry and acidic). On the other hand, having too much heat can cause the grapes to over-ripen, resulting in a burnt flavor, but this is often countered on the West Coast by the cool nights that help retain the grapes' acidity. Another factor that benefits vines is their location on the slopes where they get ample sunshine. Coupled with this is the modulation effect of the cool sea breeze from the Pacific Ocean, which helps keep the vineyards healthy, cool, and a little on the dry side.
Overall, grapes grown on the West Coast tend to be more balanced, with complex and restrained flavors, something that consumers of today seem to prefer. The East Coast wines tend to be on the dry side, subtle, moderate to high in acidity, and have mild to moderate alcohol content.
DOES THIS MEAN ONE SHOULD ONLY BUY WEST COAST WINES?
Definitely not. The East Coast does produce some great white and red wines. In fact, the East Coast has the ability to grow a much wider range of grape species compared to the West Coast.
Favorite grape varieties on the West Coast include the family of Vitis Vinifera, which makes the base of most classic West Coast wines, like Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot. On the East Coast, there are three different species of grapes that include rotundifolia, Vitis labrusca, and Riparia. They are just as versatile and have led to the production of classic wines, like the Niagara ice wines, the Concord reds, and the “foxy” Catawba.
Finally, it should not be forgotten that the climate in the eastern regions of the United States is less predictable, harsher, and yet, despite all this, the wineries have constantly produced some great wines.
The West Coast is head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to wine production, but the East Coast is slowly catching up. While it may not have the volume of the West Coast, the wines from the East Coast are not bad. Judging from sales, New York wines are just as competitive as wines from Washington or California in the price ranges of $10-$20.
In the end, it is all a matter of personal preference. If you live on the West Coast, it is natural that you might be partial to West Coast wines and the same goes for residents on the East Coast. Amidst all this argument between east and west in the USA wine rivalry, most people forget that Washington State is a major league producer of quality wines. If you want to experience the quality of wines from Washington State, here are some very affordable and high-quality wines that you will enjoy.
2020 PACIFIC RIM WICKED GOOD RED
2020 J RIESLING
2018 VIN DE GLACIÈRE RIESLING
2018 RAINSTORM PINOT NOIR ROSÉ
Pacific Rim & Company, located in the State of Washington, knows wines, with a special emphasis on Riesling wines. You can call 1-503-863-5454 to speak to a knowledgeable staff member.