Chardonnay’s reign in the U.S. is undisputed. Not only is it the most widely planted grape, it is the best-selling white wine year after year. But far from taking this white grape for granted, winemakers continue to discover the variety’s potential and evolve the current style of Chardonnay.
Today, a focus on terroir, as well as evolutions in the vineyards and cellar, are paving a new path for American Chardonnay. “Over the last 30 years, we’ve really narrowed in on where we should be planting and what we should be planting, and that's where our biggest jumps in quality have come; getting the right plant material in the right place,” says Jeff Stewart, winemaker at Hartford Family Winery.
Meanwhile, new tools and vinification techniques - a variety of fermentation vessels, the use of skin contact, and types of yeast strains, for example - help winemakers push the boundaries and notions of American Chardonnay, bringing us into a new golden era for the grape.