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The Best American Sparkling Wines to Try Right Now

Here’s your guide to the various styles and noteworthy producers of American bubbly

Janice Williams By July 19, 2022
Sparkling wine corks photographed from above on white background
Sparkling wine corks photographed from above on white background. Photo credit Adobe Stock.

The pop of the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine is like a call to action. Something festive and delicious is about to happen — come and see.

People across America are finding ways to answer the call, and they’re not waiting for special occasions and celebrations to enjoy their sparkling wine. Wine drinkers are popping bottles of bubbly for any and every reason. 

The proof is in the explosive growth sparkling wine has seen over the last few years; according to Nielsen, sparkling sales were up a massive 13% in 2021. 

And it’s not just Champagne and Prosecco — American-made sparkling wine is helping drive the growth.

“If you go back 20, 25 years ago, everyone knew the same 10 American sparkling wine producers. Now that’s dramatically larger. And we’re seeing sparkling wine made in some fashion in every state in the country,” says David Parker, founder and CEO of the California-based Benchmark Wine Group.

American sparkling hot spots

Parker predicts drinkers will start to see a “broader range of sparkling wines” hit the market, especially as supply chain issues and shortages mean domestic bottles become more easily accessible.

While regions like California and Washington produce the most bottles, states like Oregon, New York, and Michigan have also become hot spots for sparkling wine production.

“I’d guess that in another 20 years, Oregon would have a very significant sparkling wine industry. We’re very well suited for sparkling wine production,” says Sashi Moorman, winemaker at Oregon’s Evening Land Vineyards

Parker notes that as interest in American sparkling wine grows, winemakers are exploring ever more areas of the country that could be prime real estate for bubbly production. 

“Sparkling wine can be made so successfully in so many different climate areas and in areas where the traditional varietals don’t necessarily ripen as fully. We have the whole country to discover where the best sparkling wines can be made, and that will happen,” says Parker. 

The classic style of American sparkling wine

Many American sparkling wines are made using a technique that originated in Champagne, called Méthode Champenoise, or traditional method. The practice reached the U.S. in the 1800s after Nicolas Longworth accidentally produced a sparkling wine with Catawba grapes in Ohio. He later brought in French vignerons to teach him the classic method.

Modern-day sparkling winemaking in the U.S. can be traced back to Jack and Jamie Davies, who made the first commercially-produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine ― or rather, Blanc de Blancs ― in California in the 1960s, using the traditional method. 

Traditional method production starts with grapes being harvested, pressed, and fermented, after which winemakers add a blend of sugar and yeast called liqueur de tirage, which re-starts the fermentation process. The base wine is then bottled, sealed with a crown cap, and placed on wooden racks. The bottles are subjected to riddling, during which they are rotated daily to move the lees — the leftover yeast particles caused by autolysis during the initial winemaking process that provides richness and flavor. 

Once fermentation is complete, the bottles are turned upside. The lees will settle in the neck of the bottle and be removed when the neck is frozen. For the final step, winemakers may give the remaining wine a splash of a diluted sugar mixture called dosage, which can enhance the sweetness or dryness perceived on the palate. The bottle is closed with a fresh cork, and is ready for drinking. 

“American sparkling wine will benefit tremendously with more and more practice of Méthode Champenoise. It is an extremely technical way of making sparkling wine, but when we think of the grand marques of Champagne, it’s through this process winemakers can achieve such consistency, quality, and complexity,” says Moorman. 

Other methods

There are easier ways to make sparkling wine, including the Charmat method. This winemaking style was invented by Italian winemaker Federico Martinotti in 1895, and improved and patented in 1907 by France’s Eugène Charmat.

It’s used for Prosecco production, but American winemakers practice it too. 

The biggest difference between Charmat and traditional method is that the secondary fermentation takes place in a stainless steel tank. When the fermentation is complete, the wine is filtered and bottled immediately. As no time has been spent in contact with lees, the sparkling wine shows more clean fruit characters and heady aromatics. 

Another increasingly popular sparkling wine technique is Méthode Ancestral, or ancestral method. The wine is bottled as it undergoes initial fermentation and is sealed with a crown cap. There’s no secondary fermentation, no riddling, no dosage, and, more likely than not, no corking. The wines are left in the bottle unfiltered and unfined. 

More to come

As sparkling winemaking in the U.S. grows, the chances are good that ever more innovative methods will emerge.

“You’re certainly going to see people working to continue to push the quality up. We’re already starting to see significant numbers of American sparkling wines break the hundred-dollar-bottle level. But I think you’re gonna see plenty of premium, $20, very good sparkling U.S. wines come into play. And all categories in between will continue to grow,” says Parker. 

Classic style American sparkling wines to try:

bottle of Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (~$25)

This Napa Valley sparkler is made with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Meunier grapes. Though it is made through the traditional method, each parcel of grapes is harvested and fermented separately before they get blended together to undergo a second fermentation in bottle. The final result is a dry and bright sparkling with apple, stone fruit, and vanilla aromas and flavors, and a long, rich finish.

bottle of Banshee Ten of Cups Sparkling Wine

Banshee Ten of Cups Sparkling Wine (~$30)

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier grapes from Sonoma County are used to make this vibrant and aromatic sparkling wine. Aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, and honeysuckle are abundant, while the palate shimmers with apple and lemon tart nuances. The persistent bubbles give way to a creamy finish framed with acidity.

bottle of Barboursville Vineyards Virginia 1814 Cuvée Brut

Barboursville Vineyards Virginia Brut Blanc de Blancs (~$30)

This sparkling wine is made with Chardonnay grapes grown in Virginia. The wine is lively with intense aromas of white flowers and lemon peel, while the palate is medium-bodied and smooth with clean acidity and complexity. The finish is long and elegant.

bottle of Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling Nature

Dr. Konstantin Frank Finger Lakes Riesling Nature (~$35)

Produced in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York, this bright and charming bubbly is made with Riesling grapes. Though it does undergo a second fermentation in the bottle, no dosage is added at the end, resulting in a light wine that is bone dry with intense fruit flavors of red apple, lemon, and a dash of ginger. 

bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs

Schramsberg North Coast Blanc de Blancs (~$42)

Made with Chardonnay grapes sourced from Schramsberg vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, this is a vibrant and fruit-forward sparkling wine. Intense aromas of green apple, lemon, and fresh-baked bread lead to tropical and citrus fruit flavors intertwined with hints of toasted almond. The finish is polished with clean acidity.

bottle of Evening Land Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Oregon

Evening Land Vineyards Oregon Blanc de Blancs (~$65)

This biodynamic sparkling wine is made with Chardonnay grapes from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Green apple, lemon, and brioche aromas and flavors are abundant while the medium-bodied palate is creamy and fresh.

bottle of Argyle Brut Extended Tirage

Argyle Extended Tirage Brut (~$85)

The Chardonnay grapes for this sparkling wine come from the Willamette Valley. With a 91-point score from Wine Spectator critics, this bubbly is bursting with lemon and floral aromas. On the palate this wine is bright, crisp, and clean with tongue-tickling minerality and energetic acidity. The finish is long and vibrant.

Charmat American sparkling wines to try:

bottle of Empire Estate Riesling Blanc de Blanc Brut Finger Lakes

Empire Estate Finger Lakes Blanc De Blancs (~$20)

This wine is made with Riesling grapes grown in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York. With a glimmering, straw-yellow hue, the wine displays complex aromas of green apple, ripe peach, lemon, and toasted oak that evolve onto the palate with a dash of minerality. The finish is complete with brisk acidity and tiny persistent bubbles.

bottle of Good Harbor Vineyards Blanc de Noirs

Good Harbor Vineyards Leelanau Peninsula Blanc de Noirs (~$30)

Made with Michigan-grown Pinot Noir, this dry sparkling wine is aromatic with cherry flavors. Strawberry nuances shine through on the creamy palate along with a hint of minerality. The finish is clean with a touch of red fruit.

American sparkling rosés to try:

bottle of La Crema Brut Rose Russian River Valley Methode Traditionnelle

La Crema Russian River Valley Sparkling Brut Rosé (~$45)

You can’t miss the smell of apples, white flowers, and crushed rock permeating from a bottle of this sparkling blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California’s Russian River Valley. The palate sings with strawberry, lemon, and spicy ginger flavors. Sharp acidity provides a bit of a backbone and leads to a bright, vivacious finish that lingers.

bottle of Dough Wines Sparkling Brut Rose

Dough Wines Willamette Valley Sparkling Brut Rosé (~$55)

This bright and cherry salmon pink-colored sparkling wine is made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier from the Willamette. Fragrances of rose petals, peach, and baking spice are intense, while the medium-bodied palate displays ample fruit-flavors backed by racy acidity. The finish is long, lean, and dotted with gingery notes. 

New expressions to try:

bottle of Buttonwood Grove Cabernet Franc Pet-Nat

Buttonwood Grove Winery New York Cabernet Franc Pét-Nat (~$25)

Produced in the Finger Lakes, this fizzy pink wine is made with Cabernet Franc grapes. The wine is light with floral aromas and hints of strawberry while the palate is characterized with savory herbal nuances. A fine line of acidity provides structure through the clean, fruity finish.

bottle of Bodkin Cuvee Agincourt Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

Bodkin Cuvée Agincourt Lake County Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (~$25)

This citrusy sparkling wine is made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Lake County region in California. The wine is fresh and crisp with racy acidity from the first sip through the finish. Intense lime aroma mingle with grapefruit, passion fruit, and pineapple flavors on the palate along with hints of toasted hazelnut.