n a historic tasting of French and American wines in 1976, American wines scored highest. The unexpected triumph vindicated two centuries of American winemaking and brought the industry new respect and prominence. But American wine was in fact a long story, reaching across cultures and continents.
The only wine made in America prior to the arrival of Europeans was produced by the Tohono O'odham people of the desert Southwest from the fruit of the saguaro cactus. As Europeans explored, colonized, and settled North America, they introduced other ancient wine- growing traditions to the vine-rich continent the Vikings called "Vinland."
After cultivating native grapes for sacramental wine and daily use, colonists began to import European varieties. Vineyards and wineries spread rapidly across the country in the 19th century. The 20th century brought several disasters--from Prohibition to pests--but America's wine industry survived, enjoying since 1976 the accolades it deserves.

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