The Unexpected Amount Of Grapes That End Up As Wine

Quite a versatile fruit, the grape. Despite their small size, grapes perform a number of mighty functions, including providing small snacks, garnishing cheese boards, and entertaining schoolchildren by being utilized as missiles to be thrown across classrooms.

As vital as these uses of grapes are, they are crucial to a creation probably considered to be far more important by many: wine. Although wine can be produced with cherries and blueberries, Atlas Obscura explains that these are not worthy competitors. Grapes are especially important for winemaking because they are more widely available than other fruits, have a high sugar content (which permits a higher alcohol content), and come with an acid level that's high enough to prevent contamination without an undrinkable taste.

Wine is certainly popular, too. Just in the U.S., wine sales totaled $78.4 billion in 2021 (enough for 452.4 million cases of 9-liter bottles, reports Forbes), demonstrating a clear appreciation for wine across the country. But even with all this in mind, you might not expect just how huge the number of grapes that are used to make wine is.

California makes the most amount of grapes in America

Although California is the state that produces the most wine by far in the U.S. (helped by its cooperative climate), Forbes explains that New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are also credited with noticeable grape growing and winemaking over the years, while Washington holds the respectable second-place position. So how much wine does the U.S. get out of the top two producers? The tonnage is hard to picture.

According to USDA data, in 2021, California produced about 5.76 million tons of grapes, of which approximately 3.63 million were transformed into wine. Washington, meanwhile, grew 295,000 tons of grapes each year, turning 180,000 into wine. In total, in excess of 3.8 million tons of grapes were to make wine in the U.S. last year. Wine production is the single biggest use of grapes in both states.

It's no surprise that the number of grapes used for wine correlates with the amount of money made from the process, but, interestingly, the price per ton of grapes used for wine in Washington was $1,460 in 2021, whereas in California it was $996. As such, the USDA reports that California generated $3.6 billion from producing grapes for wine production, while Washington made $263 million. Generating about $3.9 billion between them, these states supplied tons of wine to countless oenophiles.