40 States Have More Wineries Than Breweries

Craft beer may be all the rage these days with new breweries seemingly opening weekly, but in 40 states, wineries still outnumber breweries. In fact, America had just around 9,009 wineries in 2012 (see our heatmap!) compared to only 2,751 breweries — though this large number of breweries is actually a recent development explained below. Worth noting is that beer is not 100 percent in second place when compared to wine. This is because while America may have a lot more wineries than breweries, beer is the clear winner in the amount of overall volume produced, which can be explained by how much faster and cheaper it is to produce a keg of beer compared to a barrel of wine.

What’s even more interesting are the 10 states that actually have more breweries than wineries. In these states, beer is truly king, but wine may be catching up, especially in the state of Colorado. Colorado obviously has a huge craft beer scene (and is home to a macro-brewer-who-shall-not-be-named), but it also has a growing number of wineries. So we wind up with this odd piece of trivia: among the 10 states where breweries outnumbered wineries in 2012, Colorado had the highest tally of both wineries (128) and breweries (161)…as well as the largest numerical gap between the two (33 more breweries). It should be interesting to see what effect, if any, Colorado’s recent marijuana legalization will have on these numbers. Might we see land currently used for vineyards converted to farm cannabis, or will more people crave a fine Colorado wine to complement Mary Jane?

Did you know that there were 2,269 breweries in America in 1887? By 1918 that number had fallen to 1,092, then 669 in 1919, as it became clear Prohibition would take effect the following year bringing the number down to 0 (legal breweries that is). The number of breweries recovered to a post-Prohibition high of 857 in 1941, before collapsing to just 44 breweries in the United States in 1979. The subsequent craft beer explosion marked a steady, rapid climb all the way up to 2,751 American breweries in 2012.

Although Americans still consume more beer than wine (by whatever measure of liquid volume you prefer), it’s hard to compare consumption as the two beverages typically, but not always contain two very different alcohol levels by volume. That said, it is clear Americans’ preferences are changing in favor of both wine and spirits, at beer’s expense. As Gallup reported in August, 2013:

Americans who drink alcohol are about equally likely to say they drink beer (36%) or wine (35%) most often. Another 23% say liquor is their beverage of choice. That continues the trend in which beer has declined as the preferred beverage of U.S. drinkers, shrinking its advantage over wine from 20 percentage points in 1992 to one point today.

Beer, wine and liquor preferences in America have changed

Perhaps the 10 states who currently have more breweries than wineries better watch out!

Whether you’re a beer drinker or a wine drinker, check out our handy chart recommending the types of wine that drinkers of different types of beer should enjoy, and vice versa! Cheers!