First thing, the USA is a BIG producer of wine, ranking 4th in the World league of wine making after Spain, Italy and France.Secondly, surprisingly, every US state makes some wine, including Hawaii and Alaska, though the latter uses imported grapes, however it is California that remains the largest wine producer at over 85% of all US wines and hosts the most plantings of vines, with Washington and New York states in 2nd and 3rd respectively - who knew? From the early days of grape growing, beginning with the first settlers in the 1500's, the continent of North America has been dotted with vineyards, but it wasn't until the latter part of the 19th century that commercial, and successful, vineyards were operating in several states. A combination of WW1, Prohibition and changing culture almost destroyed the wine industry, but it was slowly built back throughout the 1950's, 60's and 1970's in terms of quantity and quality, culminating in the success at the vaunted Paris Judgement Tasting in the 1976, when English wine merchant Steven Spurrier put the very best wines of France against the best wines of California in a blind tasting judged by international tasting teams in Paris, and the 'new kids on the block' (actually, by then quite old kids!) triumphed. Since those halcyon days, the wines of the US of A have continued to rise in quality, with many of the most prized and sought after bottles of wine in the World now coming from boutique wineries all over America, sporting names such as Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Opus One and Monte Bello. The building of wine brands in American wine has also been crucial and here it is names such as Gallo, Mondavi, Beringer and St Michelle that make up the bulk of large scale winemaking, while high quality brands such as Jordan of Sonoma continue to win awards as well as being sought after for consistent quality and affordability.