Wine Country: Americans Open Up to Trying Wines from Other States

Although partial to California wines, American wine drinkers are looking at regions outside Napa Valley for new wines to try.

Kym Ellis / Unsplash

California produces the lion’s share of wine in the United States, and American wine drinkers have taken a liking to its grapes. In a recent study by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age, 62% of wine consumers said they would prefer to buy a brand of wine from California over a wine from another state when price isn’t a factor.

However, younger wine consumers and those from the Midwest were more open to wines made outside of the Golden State. Forty-four percent of wine buyers aged 18-34 said they’d opt for a wine from another state if given the choice — compared to only 31% of those aged 35-44. In the Midwest, 44% of wine shoppers said they’d choose a wine from outside of California versus 35% of those from the Northeast who said the same.

The good news for wine producers in lesser-known grape-growing regions is that an overwhelming majority (81%) of wine consumers said they’re at least somewhat likely to buy wine from a non-major wine-producing state. Moreover, more than half (58%) of wine consumers say they’re at least somewhat familiar with wine-producing regions outside of Napa Valley, and Northeastern wine lovers were the savviest — with 70% reporting some familiarity with wine production beyond the Napa region.

Regionality, however, still plays a major role in consumers’ familiarity with America’s wine-producing regions. For example, only 5% of wine consumers nationally associated Michigan with the wine industry, but 13% of wine consumers in the Midwest recognized the state as a wine producer.

Similarly, only 11% of Southern wine consumers and 5% of Midwestern wine consumers associated the state of New York with winemaking — compared to almost half (49%) of wine buyers from the Northeast.

When it comes to weighing their options, American wine consumers are by and large unpretentious when it comes to buying wine. Taste, price and wine type/blend emerged as the most influential factors for consumers when buying wine: 92% said taste is at least somewhat important followed by price (85%) and the type/blend (81%).

A wine’s origin does however have a significant impact on American’s wine purchases, especially for older millennials, young Gen Xers, those from the Northeast, and high-income earners. Sixty-eight percent of wine consumers aged 35-44 said where a wine is made is important to their purchase decision. Sixty-three percent of Northeastern wine consumers and 59% of those with an annual household income above $100,000 said the same.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age during March 5-8, 2021, among 1,068 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For more information on methodology, please contact Dami Rosanwo.

Download full data here.