California

American Rhone through the years

1974 Joseph Phelps Winery makes the first American Syrah in the modern era.

1975 Gary Eberle plants Syrah at Estrella Winery in Paso Robles. It sells so poorly that by 1980 he is making a 'white' Syrah - a white wine from red grapes.

1979 Old vine syrah is discovered at McDowell Valley Vineyards.

1986 Josh Jensen (Calera), Bill Smith (La Jota) and Pete Minor (Ritchie Creek) all introduce Viognier in tiny quantities, followed by Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Qupe, Edmunds St. John and others.

1989 The Wine Spectator publishes its first major story on American Rhone wines, written by Harvey Steiman. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon appears on the cover in a mask and powder blue cowboy costume, cementing his role as the "original" Rhone Ranger.

​1989 Tablas Creek, a partnership between the Haas and Perrin families, is the first project on American soil by a French Rhone producer.

1991 John Alban releases his first Viognier, having planted more of the variety than anyone in the United States, and very likely the world.

1993 In Georgia, Mat Garretson sponsors an international Viognier tasting through his marketing group, the Viognier Guild, a first for the variety. The event is attended by 22 guests, plus two journalists and two winemakers: Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards in Virginia, and Alban. Alban persuades Garretson to move to California and sponsor the next event there.

1995 Restaurateur Manfred Krankl sends a bottle of 1994 Queen of Spades, a Syrah from his new winery, Sine Qua Non, to wine critic Robert Parker. It receives an astronomical score of 95 points, the first American Rhone varietal wine to reach that mark.

1997 the girl & the fig Restaurant opens with a Rhone-Alone winelist - first of its kind.

1998 After a few itinerant years, the Viognier Guild changes its name to Hospice du Rhone and settles in Paso Robles at the Mid-State Fairgrounds. With the Rhone Rangers, who joined in 1998, Hospice becomes the pre-eminent celebration of Rhone varietal wines in the country.

2005 In a single decade, plantings of Syrah balloon from less than 1,000 acres to more than 17,000. In 2011, there were 18,825.