Wine Lessons from The Bachelor: Episode 8

Each week GrapeFriend sums up each episode with what we've learned about wine from Ben's journey to find love.

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Hometown dates — always a season favorite episode! As we all know, Ben hails from Sonoma, a perfect place for a winery. California accounts for almost half of all U.S. wineries, more than 90 percent of America's total wine production, and most of the federally-recognized growing regions called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), 14 of which are in Sonoma.

Last night, we saw the remaining four girls' hometowns, none of which is exactly what you'd call Wine Country. Still, did you know that every state in the U.S. makes wine? Totally true, though to a lesser (or far lesser!) extent than California. So, let's see who Ben should have given roses to based on their home state's grapefriend-liness.

1) Lindzi from Ocala, FL

In Ocala, Ben and Lindzi spent the day on her family's horse farm. Who wouldn't want a refreshing glass of wine after all that carriage racing? Well, it might be a bit tough to find a homegrown variety. There are 16 certified Florida Farm Wineries, which is a pretty low count when compared to California's 1200. In the 1930s, researchers had to develop new hybrid varieties to suit Florida's tropical climate better, but the state still doesn't have any AVA's. I think it's safe to say Lindzi's probably not going to convince Ben to move to Florida, but her parents could always race through the vines in Sonoma. However, points go to Lindzi's dad for toasting with wine at the bonfire.

2) Kacie B. from Clarksville, TN

Tennessee's known for bourbon, but there are actually 32 wineries that belong to the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance. Unfortunately, since he doesn't drink, Kacie's probation officer dad hasn't been in any of them. Although that isn't in itself a problem, it activates some flashing red lights when you want to marry a winemaker. But, back to the wineries: most of Tennessee's plant French-American hybrids, which are more resistant to the grapevine diseases that thrive in humid climates, and part of the state is even in the Mississippi-Delta AVA. Not Sonoma by far, but better than Florida. Still, Kacie and her baton might want to start considering Jack and Coke as their drink of choice.

3) Nicki from Fort Worth, TX

Nicki got Ben all ranch-ready with a pair of cowboy boots and a big cowboy hat. And in the state where "everything's bigger," the wine output is a decent match for its size. Texas is the country's fifth largest wine producer and seventh largest winegrape producer, with eight AVA's and 232 wineries. Main grapes produced are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, followed by Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. However, there are also 15 grapes that are native to the state, which is more than any other region on the planet. Nicki's got a chance here, even if her dad pretty much wanted to crush Ben's proposal thoughts like a grape at harvest time.

4) Courtney from Scottsdale, AZ

Courtney's mom may have been skeptical about true love on The Bachelor, but Courtney continued with her scheming as she brought Ben to a park where a wedding was being set up. Of course, there was sparkling wine toasting involved. While Courtney's intentions might not have much cred, the state's wine efforts do. Arizona has 48 licensed wineries and one AVA. Its high elevation and desert conditions produce a whole range of grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sangiovese. (And as far as cool factors go, the lead singer of Tool, Maynard James Keenan, owns Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards in northern Arizona's Verde Valley). The family didn't seem as calculated as Courtney, but they also served wine and toasted with it at their house.

Ben's best grapefriend choice is clearly Nicki. Lindzi should have been packing her bags and moving back to her wine-poor hometown. But, since Kacie was the rose-less one at the end, maybe the thought of a non-drinking in-law was too much for our winemaker. Or, maybe it was just the baton twirling.

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