Carson Demmond picks her top American wines of the year, as part of our series on the best wines of 2016.

As often happens when writing any end-of-year listicle, the task of looking back over the last 12 months has the pleasant side effect of reminding us of the highlights.

Instead of analyzing a particular moment, scenario, or trend, it’s a chance to reflect on a whole years’ worth of them. And while the jury’s still out on whether the pros outweighed the cons in 2016, I know one thing that’s for certain: it was a great year for drinking.

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Not just as respite from the long list of adored musical icons that we lost – or the talented and influential winemakers, of which there were as many for whom 2016 was the end of the road. Not just to soothe the political wounds of one of the most divisive U.S. presidential elections in history.

But because the volume of compelling, high-quality wines available in the market seemed to swell to new heights, at every price point.


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For me – an admitted Franco-centric wine lover – 2016 was a year that took me out of my comfort zone to focus predominantly on the wines produced on my own American soil.

It took me to Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara County to taste face-to-face with some of my bucket-list California producers.

It took me on not one but two epic treks through the Finger Lakes region to learn about what’s new and get my hands dirty with a little harvest-time grunt work. I tasted countless Cabernets, Chardonnays, and Pinot Noirs alongside my colleague Ray Isle in the Wine Room at Food & Wine. I hit the trade tastings with hurricane-like force.

And I made some great discoveries from young up-and-comers at wine fairs like Big Glou and Raw Wine, which recently debuted in New York.

If I could subtitle my Top 10 US Wines Tasted in 2016, it would be ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ since David Bowie’s loss was a particularly difficult one for me to come to terms with. They’re listed here in the order I’d want to drink them in – lightest to fullest – rather than by rating or any other qualitative attribute.

US wines 2016: Top picks