West coast wineries have been all the rage for a long time when it comes to wines. States like Washington, Oregon, and California are renowned worldwide not only for their wine innovation but also for the sheer number of perfect biomes and microclimates for grapevine cultivation that exist along the coastline.
Combined, they account for roughly 90% of all the wine produced in the United States. California is a wine-producing behemoth, it alone accounts for over 85% of the American wine supply.
While the numbers are certainly skewed westward, east coast America has been producing some truly fantastic, unique, and exclusive wine – giving the west a run for its money. Some of these east coast wineries are up and coming but many of them have been giving stiff competition to the west coast for quite a while now, in terms of quality and quantity.
Konstantin Frank Winery, Hammondsport, New York
The Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is one of the most prestigious in Finger Lake County, New York. They are renowned for their exquisite white wines such as Riesling and Chardonnay.
The winery is situated on the southern hills surrounding Keuka Lake and has over 4 generations of history in winemaking. Wine tasting is open throughout the year and welcomes guests without any prior reservations, you simply walk in and book your wine tasting experience or tour. Combine the delicious wines, educational experience of the tour, and beautiful views and you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
Dr. Konstantin Frank was a winemaker with a PhD in viticulture from the Odessa Polytechnic Institute. It was in 1957 that Dr. Frank introduced the Vinifera, a classical European varietal, to American soil with the dream of producing world-class cool-climate varietals such as Riesling and Pinot Noir. By 1962 he established his vineyard as a commercial winery and it has been family-owned for 4 generations now.
New York has a generally cool climate throughout the year with mild summers and harsh winters from time to time. Finger Lakes has a short growing season due to its shortage of sunny days. Supplanted by the climate-moderating influence of the lakes, however, winemakers have been inspired to create excellent wines – particularly Riesling and Pinot Noir.
Top 5 Wines
- Riesling Nature 2018
- Blanc De Blancs 2016
- Blanc De Noirs 2017
- Brut Rose 2017
- Celebre NV
Black Ankle Winery, Mount Airy, Maryland
Located near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Black Ankle Winery is known for its spectacular Chardonnay and Rosé. You can book an entire day at the winery for a picnic or for a sightseeing tour – what better place to eat outdoors than in this scenic mountainous region. They even host weddings and other types of gatherings.
Black Ankle winery began like most wineries in America, with a deep fascination for wines and using the advantages of American soil and biodiversity to create fine wines that can rival Europe’s best.
In 2002 the farm on Black Ankle Road was bought and converted into a vineyard. After the first successful harvest of 2006, the winery mushroomed into a world-class vintage producer.
Maryland has two different climates. In the highland west, temperatures tend to fluctuate much more drastically, with winters reaching -40 degrees Fahrenheit and summers hitting up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, because Mt. Airy is located on the eastern side it experiences a much more moderate and generally speaking, cool climate, ideal for producing cool clime varietals.
Top 5 Wines
- 2020 Grüner Veltliner
- 2020 Albariño Norte
- 2017 Chardonnay Reserve
- 2020 Rosé
- 2015 Pinot Noir
Jefferson Vineyards, Charlottesville, Virginia
Jefferson Vineyards are often referred to as the birthplace of American viticulture and commercial winemaking. They are located in the outskirts of Charlottesville in the forested hills nestled between Monticello and Monroe’s highland. It is known for its premier and award-winning Viognier wines but also hosts a variety of Riesling and Chardonnay.
The history of Jefferson vineyards goes all the way back to 1774 when wine enthusiast President Thomas Jefferson chose the site of Virginia to grow European varietals of the Vitis vinifera family. It was the birth of the American wine industry.
Jefferson’s passion for French fine wines drove him to try and replicate growing the same vintage in America. There were a lot of trials and tribulations when it came to growing due to poor agriculture innovation back in the day. However, over time, the wineries began to flourish.
Virginia has one of the longest growing seasons for wines in all of America. It gets over 200 sunny days per year, allowing the grapes to fully ripen and give you those tasty tropical fruit notes.
The temperature fluctuates from 23°F during winters to 86.9°F during summers – perfectly suitable for grape growing. Virginia became the 10th largest wine-producing State in America in 2020.
Top 5 Wines
- Viognier 2019
- Estate Reserve White 2017
- Skin Fermented Pinot Gris 2019
- Chardonnay Reserve 2018
- Riesling 2019
Barren Ridge Vineyards, Fishersville, Virginia
Shenandoah Valley grapes put Virginia on the map for wines. Barren Ridge Vineyards is a family-owned winery with an authentic barn-style rustic ambiance. They’re best known for their semi-dry vintages like Harmony and Red Barren. The vineyard is open for tours and tasting room experiences every day.
The history of Virginia’s first wineries goes all the way back to the colonial era, but the industry only recently came to bloom in the late 70s. Barren Ridge Vineyards has been a family business for over 4 generations now.
It started off as an apple orchard in 1910. In 2004, the grandson of the first owner, using the winemaking experience he acquired in Europe converted it into a beautiful winery. They also make apple wines!
Fisherville is a census-designated area in the Augusta County of Virginia, located in the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia is home to a variety of landscapes and 8 distinct American Viticulture Areas thanks to its biodiversity.
Temperatures in Fisherville range from 22°F during winters to 86°F in the summers, ideal for grape cultivation.
Top 5 Wines
- 2017 Merlot
- 2017 Petit Verdot
- 2019 Christof Blended Ice Wine
- 2019 Red Barren
- 2018 Cabernet Franc
Naylor Wine Cellars, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania
Naylor Wine Cellars is one of Pennsylvania’s most bustling, casual-vibe wineries located in York County. It’s famous for its Chambourcin red, together with the beautiful woodland setting you get to take in while sipping it.
Wine tours include a complete guide of the estate and the wine production traditions dating back to the 19th century.
Naylor Wine Cellars was founded in 1978 by Richard and Audrey Naylor, after their worldwide tour studying wineries from across the globe to buttress their own production techniques.
In 2013 Naylor’s pioneering achievements in the field of viticulture earned them the American Wines Society’s Award of Merit, their highest honor.
Pennsylvania’s hot summers and cold winters resemble numerous wine regions in Europe. This makes it a great place to grow varietals like Albarino, Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, and many more cool-climate grapes. It is the 5th largest grape-producing region in the United States with over 14,000 acres of vineyards.
Top 5 Wines
- Cabernet Franc
- Mango Mania
- Pet Guardians Black Dog
Diamond Hill Vineyards, Cumberland, Rhode Island
Diamond Hills Vineyard is a quaint and small family-run winery, perfect for a weekend getaway and some delicious wine. Rhode Island isn’t the most famous region when it comes to wines but Diamond Hill will undoubtedly be a memorable experience.
They have a beautiful outdoor garden, 30 acres of vineyards sprawled across forested hills, and offer free wine tastings to people looking to sample before buying. The customer service is very personal, which makes Diamond Hill stand out.
Diamond Hill is relatively new. It’s a second-generation run family business that uses the old English tradition for making wine from fruits like apples, cranberries, and peaches. The first vines planted were Pinot Noir in 1976 and now the winery controls 4 acres of it.
Being almost on the same latitude as New York, Rhode Island, as you can guess is also better suited for growing cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Riesling. It has a humid continental climate with cold winters and warm-to-hot summers that vary year to year.
Top 5 Wines
- Cranberry Apple
- Pinot Noir
- Scarlet Run Red
- River Valley White
- Spiced Apple
Silver Springs Winery L.L.C., Burdett, New York
Silver Springs is known in New York for its classic reds and a variety of fruit-flavored wines. It’s located in Burdett, a village in Schuyler County New York east of the breathtaking Lake Seneca.
It’s a family-owned winery with a hippie vibe that’s produced a fair number of international gold medal-winning wines. Not only that, but they also make an excellent Brick Oven Pizza – showcasing their Italian roots.
Silver Springs winery has a rich family history that traces its roots to northeastern Italy back to 1320, with the family name Zuccarino. The family’s passion and traditions for fine wine have been passed down for over 700 years.
Burdett, being on almost the same latitude, has similar climatic conditions to most Italian vineyards. This makes growing authentic Italian varietals feasible – halfway across the world from their area of origin! The warm summers allow for just enough ripening and the cold winters help the fruit to regain its acidity and sugars.
Top 5 Wines
- Gold NV Red Blend
- 2012 Riesling
- NV Dry Rose
- White Merlot
- Shamballa Rose
San Sebastian Winery, St. Augustine, Florida
Florida grows some of the most exotic and hybrid Spanish wines you’ll ever taste in the United States. Its tropical conditions make it ideal for the growth of a plethora of sweet wine varieties. San Sebastian is a convivial award-winning winemaker located in St. Augustine County.
Some historians suggest that this is the real birthplace of wine as there’s evidence of vineyards being planted as far back as 1562. Plus, did you know, St. Augustine is the oldest city in America?
San Sebastian has been a family-run winery since 1996 although the company was formed in 1983. The building it’s housed in was constructed by Henry Flager in 1923 to embody the feel of the town’s long history. Today San Sebastian is an industrial pioneer for exotic fine wines and the second-largest winery in the State of Florida.
Florida isn’t the first place you think of when it comes to wine because most of the world’s wines are grown in Mediterranean regions. What makes Florida’s wine unique is its year-round sunshine and tropical climate. This gives grapes an abundant ripening which breaks down the acidity and makes the wine sweeter.
Top 5 Wines
- Rioja Alavesa
- Rueda Verdejo
Tarara Vineyard and Winery, Leesburg, Virginia
Leesburg is Virginia’s most favored destination for wines, no disrespect to Fisherville and Williamsburg, they’re obviously great too. But Leesburg, Virginia is the birthplace of the American Wine industry, and today, home to countless award-winning wineries on a par with their European rivals.
Tarara Vineyards is located alongside the Potomac River and offers picture-perfect settings for all kinds of outdoor wine tasting events and parties.
The story of Tarara begins in 1985 when Whitie Hubert, a successful commercial developer decided to retire to his 475-acre basin of the Potomac River. However, given the fertility of the soil and climatic conditions perfect for ripening, he decided this would be a great spot to start his own vineyard.
Leesburg gets an average of 42 inches of rainfall annually but what makes it best suited for grapes is the fact that it has an average of 200 sunny days per year. The temperature fluctuates from 23°F during winters to 86.9°F during summers which is perfect for viticulture with exotic grapes.
Top 5 Wines
- 2008 Cabernet Franc
- 2010 Rose
- 2010 Viognier
- 2009 Nevaeh White
- 2008 Long Bomb Edition 2
Panama City Beach Winery, Florida
A beachside winery in a warm tropical climate is a rare experience few wineries offer. Panama City Beach Winery is located right across from Panama Beach on the corner of the St. Thomas Shopping Area. If you’re into water sports, tanning, and wine tasting you can satisfy all 3 of these conveniently at Panama Beach.
Not only are the wines made from 100% fruit only, but they also offer complimentary tastings from Monday to Saturday. Panama offers a unique range of wines you can bet you’ve never tried before and may have thought never existed!
Panama City Beach has won multiple awards over the years for its hybrid set of wines that take and combine the flavors of nature in unexpected ways. Details of how the company began aren’t known, however, in recent years they’ve grown exponentially.
Panama is a hot region, to say the least. Their winters are cool and summers leave you trickling with sweat. However, this combination of heat and humidity allows them to be able to grow fruits they couldn’t anywhere else in America. And this is what makes the wines taste different, they’re also named rather oddly:
Top 5 Wines
- Mango Mamma
- Passion Fruit Florida Fever
- Blueberry Blue Dry
- Black And Blue Port
- Orange Coffee (Midnight Sun)
A Few Parting Words
California may be the most prolific wine region in the United States but there are several east coast locally grown wines that even Napa wines have a hard time keeping up with. The east coast is better known for its cool-climate grape varietals. It’s not that these regions don’t get any heat – take Florida for example. They get plenty of it during the summer but because the temperature drops off so quickly, grapes don’t have the chance to fully ripen.
However, the cool climate preserves the acidity of the grapes resulting in more hybrid and exotic flavors – truly worth a visit for any wine enthusiast!