Vineyard plantings in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas are increasing, adding to a growing diversity of wineries in the country, statistics show.

Figures from the American Vintners Association show that whereas only 919 wineries existed in the United States in 1980, that figure jumped to 2,188 by 2000.

Although Virginia ranks fifth in US wine production, with just over 90 wineries, some of its wine has been ranked equal or even superior to better-known California wines in out of state competitions.

At the Atlanta International Wine Summit last year for example, the Rappahannock Cellars Noblesse Blanc 2004 from Virginia won a bronze medal, besting hundreds of wines from California in the same price category.

Also in 2005, judges at the 20th annual Pacific Rim International Wine Competition awarded the 2002 Chardonnay of Keswick Vineyards ‘Best of Its Class.’ The Virginia contestant was considered the best Chardonnay in the competition from the 2002 vintage, out of 2207 wine entries – of which over 70% were from California.

To what extent Virginia wines are displacing wines from more traditional markets is unclear, but more and more merchants, at least instate, are serving the wines.

‘Yes I do sell Virginia wines,’ Michael Flynn, sommelier at one of top restaurants in Washington DC told decanter.com. ‘I have featured them at Kinkead’s for the last year, and I am especially impressed with the quality of the state’s Viogniers as well as Cabernet Franc.’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos