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Best Producers

USA: U.S. Dessert Wines

What About US Dessert Wines?
Most U.S. dessert wines are late harvest or Botrytised styles, which means that the sugars are concentrated in the grapes allowing for a sweet and often viscous wine. These methods are applied to many varietals around the country, but broadly speaking, there are two major styles. The first involves Sauvignon Blanc and/or Semillon and is modeled on the famous sweet wines from the Sauternes district of Bordeaux. Most are Botrytised and then aged in oak barrels to add an overlay of luxuriant oaky flavors. Semillon achieves a rich, figgy sort of personality while Sauvignon tends to have a bit more acidity and comes across as being not quite so lush. They are sometimes bottled individually but often work best in combination for this style of wine.

Beyond the Sauternes style, U.S. producers make late harvest or "Icewines" from aromatic varietals such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat. These wines often emulate classic European styles such as Piemontese Moscato, German Trockenbeerenausleses, and Alsatian Vendange Tardives. California provides the vast majority of the late harvest dessert wines, blessed as it is with a dry, lengthy harvesting season. Washington State has a suitable climate for making high quality Icewine from naturally-frozen, late-harvested grapes, as does New York and other northern tier states. With a labor intensive production process, these wines will always be more expensive than dry table wines, but they often represent considerable value when compared to imported French and German alternatives.

Premier Producers
Apex (Gewürztraminer Icewine)
Beringer (Nightingale & Late Harvest Riesling)
Bonny Doon (Vin de Glaciére Muscat)
Callaway (Sweet Nancy)
Chappellet (Moelleux Chenin Blanc)
Chateau St. Jean (Late Harvest Riesling)
Dolce
Elk Cove (Ultima Riesling)
Erath (Late Harvest Gewürztraminer)
Freemark Abbey (Edelwein Gold)
Grgich Hills (Late Harvest Riesling & Violetta)
J. Lohr (Late Harvest Riesling)
Murphy-Goode (Late Harvest Musqué)
Navarro (Late Harvest Riesling)
Quady (Orange Muscat & Black Muscat)
Santa Barbara Winery (Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc)
Santino (Dry Berry Select Harvest Riesling)
Silvan Ridge (Cluster Select Riesling)
Swanson (Late Harvest Semillon)
Talley (Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc)


Great Producers
Alderbrook (Muscat de Frontignan)
Bedell (Eis)
Casa Larga (Fiora delle Stelle Icewine)
Chalk Hill (Botrytised Semillon)
Chateau Grand Traverse (Icewine)
Chateau Ste. Michelle (Chateau Reserve Icewine & Chateau Reserve Late
Harvest Riesling)
Covey Run (Riesling Icewine)
De Loach (Late Harvest Gewürztraminer)
Dr. Konstantin Frank (Icewine)
Dry Creek Vineyard (Soleil)
Duck Pond (Semillon Ice Wine)
Firestone (Selected Harvest Riesling)
Geyser Peak (Late Harvest Riesling)
Hunt Country (Vidal Icewine)
Kendall-Jackson (Late Harvest Riesling & Late Harvest Chardonnay)
Lolonis (Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc)
Lynfred (Late Harvest Zinfandel)
Martin Brothers/Martin & Weyrich (Allegro Moscato)
Martinelli (Muscat Alexandria)
Mirassou (San Vicente Vineyard Late Harvest Riesling)
Newlan (Late Harvest Riesling)
Palmer (Select Harvest Gewürztraminer)
Joseph Phelps (Eisrebe & Late Harvest Riesling)
River Run (Late Harvest Zinfandel)
Silvan Ridge (Gewürztraminer Icewine, Late Harvest Muscat-Huxelrebe)
Voss (Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc)


Dependable Producers
Amity (Select Harvest Riesling)
Arciero (Late Harvest Muscat Canelli)
Baron Herzog (Late Harvest Riesling)
Beaulieu (Muscat de Beaulieu)
Buena Vista (Late Harvest Riesling)
Callaway (Muscat Canelli)
Chateau Ste. Michelle (Late Harvest Semillon)
Claar (Botrytised Icewine)
Cline (Muscat Canelli)
Columbia Crest (Riesling Icewine Reserve)
Concannon (Late Harvest Viognier)
Covey Run (Late Harvest Chenin Blanc)
de Lorimier (Lace)
Elk Cove (Ultima Gewürztraminer)
Eola Hills (Vin d’Epice Gewürztraminer)
La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi (Moscato Bianco)
Ferrari-Carano (Eldorado Gold)
Heron Hill (Muscat)
Herzog (Late Harvest Riesling)
Hunt Country (Vignoles Icewine)
Jekel (Late Harvest Riesling)
Kiona (Late Harvest Gewürztraminer & Late Harvest Muscat)
Mayacamas (Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc)
Paumanok (Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc)
Robert Pecota (Moscato d’Andrea)
Pindar (Eiswein)
Prejean (Late Harvest Vignoles)
Renaissance (Late Harvest Riesling)
V. Sattui (Muscat)
Ste. Chapelle (Riesling Icewine)
Willamette Valley Vineyards (Late Harvest Viognier)

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