Nebraska is a state in the very centre of the US, bordered by Colorado to the south-west and Iowa to the east. Viticulture is expanding in the state, which is better known for its agriculture and cattle industries, and as of 2010, around 20 wineries were scattered across Nebraska.
Hybrid grape varieties bred specifically to withstand extreme cold do best here. The state's best wines are made from the white varieties La Crosse, Seyval Blanc, and the red grapes De Chaunac, Marechal Foch and Chambourcin. The white variety Edelweiss is the most widely grown in the state, and the Brianna grape, developed in Minnesota is also important. The white wines can vary quite widely in terms of residual sugar levels.
The state covers just under 77,500 square miles (200,500 sq km) from the Missouri River in the east to the dry, sandy hills at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in the west. While wineries and vineyards can be found throughout Nebraska, wine production is concentrated in the south-eastern corner of the state between the cities of Omaha and Lincoln.
Nebraska's viticultural history is similar to that of much of the Midwest. Early European settlers brought wine-making traditions from their homelands, establishing a small but thriving wine industry in the mid- to late-1800s. The advent of Prohibition in 1920 saw vineyards ripped out in favor of more lucrative crops, and while the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution in 1933 saw the return of liquor to Nebraska, laws surrounding winemaking remained restrictive until the passing of the Nebraska Farm Wineries Act in 1986, which allowed growers more freedom to produce and sell wines.
The climate almost everywhere in the state is definitively continental; the nearest large body of water is the southern end of Lake Michigan, 425 miles (685 km) from the state's eastern border. Humidity is higher in the eastern part of the state, and western Nebraska is officially classified as semi-arid. The summers here are long and hot, in sharp contrast to the cold winters, when there is significant risk of vine damage during extended periods of sub-zero temperatures. The seasons also bring wide variations in precipitation, making it difficult to reliably cultivate vines better suited to more-moderate European climates.
Nebraska's growing wine industry is complemented by a viticultural research program at the University of Nebraska.