Ultimate Guide to the American Southwest Wine Region

Famous Wines of the American Southwest Wine Region

The six states of the American Southwest produce a vast variety of wine, enough to ke­ep you tasting samples for a few years. Here, we present a few suggestions -- but it by no means is everything.

Texas's main wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Merlot. It also produces numerous other varieties, including Sangiovese, Syrah, Riesling, Viognier -- and a jalapeno wine [source: Texas Wine]. Val Verde Winery of Del Rio, Texas, deserves a special mention: it's been producing wine since 1833 [source: Texas Wine].

In Arizona, vineyards are clustered in the southeast corner of the state, and the sole AVA (American Viticultural Area) is Sonoita. Try the Dos Cabezas Pinot Gris -- which has been served at the White House -- or a rare white Merlot from Charron. If you're in the mood for something sweeter, Arizona's largest winery, Kokopelli, produces numerous wines from organic fruit [source: Arizona Wines].

New Mexico has four AVAs -- Mesilla Valley, Mimbres Valley, Rio Grande Valley and Middle Rio Grande Valley. The state produces 151 different wines and almost equal numbers of reds and whites [source: American Appellation]. Try St. Clair's Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, a sparkling wine from Gruet, Milagro's Chardonnay or Old Church Road Zinfandel, or the dry fruit wines of Anasazi [sources: Heald, Landis].

Colorado has several award-winners. For a start, try Pinot Noir from the West Elks AVA, Canyon Wind's Cabernet Sauvignon, Balistreri's Syrah, a Cabernet Franc Reserve from Bookcliff or Creekside, Ptarmigan's Late Harvest Muscat, Plum Creek's Colorado Riesling or a sparkling mead from Redstone [sources: Colorado Wine, VINE].

Wine is produced on a smaller scale in Oklahoma and Utah, but the industry is expanding, and these regions are ripe for discovery. Climate conditions in Oklahoma's wine regions are similar to those of the Rhône, so it's no surprise that Oklahoma produces Rhône-style wines [source: Ervin]. In Utah, production focuses on whites, which thrive at high altitudes. Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Seyval Blanc and the lone red -- Cabernet Sauvignon -- account for most of Utah's wine. There's also a late-harvest Riesling dessert wine [source: Appellation America].

The wines of the American Southwest are proof that the pioneer spirit lives on -- practical, innovative and always a little bit different from the herd.

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