Louisiana is a southern US state on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered by Texas to the west and Mississippi to the east. Given Louisiana's hot, humid climate and marshy, waterlogged soils, it is perhaps not surprising that it has not developed a wine industry of much consequence.
Prohibition in 1920 and the adverse growing conditions in Louisiana led most vignerons to abandon the notion of winemaking. Restrictive local laws surrounding winemaking since the 1933 repeal of the ban on alcohol have meant there are just a handful of producers in the state. Some wines are made with grapes imported from other parts of the country, or other fruits. Otherwise the varieties grown here include a Muscadine, Norton and Blanc du Bois.
The state covers 52,000 square miles (135,000 sq km) of land. The terrain varies from the hilly uplands region in the north to the alluvial marshlands on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana's climate is classified as humid subtropical on the Koppen climate scale, with long, hot summers and mild winters. Humidity is perhaps the Louisiana vignerons' greatest enemy, and the threat of Pierce's disease and fungal vine diseases is a constant concern for growers.
Grape vines thrive in dry soils with limited access to water, thus lessening vigor and contributing to flavor concentration in the berries. But Louisiana's soils, made up of alluvial deposits from the Mississippi River, are famous for their swamps and bayous formed by excessive water in the earth. There are only limited pockets of loamier soils that are able to support grape-growing.
Louisiana's long culinary history is heavily influenced by the fact that it was a colony of France until sold to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. There was a substantial wine industry in the state throughout the 18th and 19th centuries; this was mostly based on wines imported from Europe. However some Louisiana settlers experimented with viticulture in the local terroir during this time.
Louisiana Spirits, Liqueurs and Other Beverages
Despite Prohibition and its effects, New Orleans is certainly a historic center for bars, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages in the USA. The Sazerac was crowned as the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008. Originally made on a French Brandy base, it is now usually made with Cognac, Rye whiskey and bitters. The Sazerac Company, which has a wide brand portofolio encompassing products from across the country has its HQ in the city. (Its major office is in Kentucky reflecting its whiskey interests.)
There are around 14 distilleries in the state. Until fairly recently the spirits sector has been somewhat focused on Rum. However in the last five years or so more whiskeys have started to appear. Various liqueurs are associated with Louisiana, and there are several producers of bitters.
Around three dozen breweries currently operate in the state. The craft beer industry began in the mid-eighties with the opening of Abita Brewing Co. As elsewhere in the USA, the number of breweries has doubled in the last five years. More than 15,000 people are directly employed in the brewing industry.