The first American Viticultural Area (AVA) was the Finger Lakes in New York State.
But it’s not the Napa Valley either. The honor actually goes to Augusta, Missouri, which earned the official U.S. federal designation in June 1980, eight months before Napa Valley. An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated appellation of origin used on American wine labels. An AVA is distinguished by geographic, geologic, and climatic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). There are currently 246 recognized AVAs in the U.S.—over half (139) are in California. Beginning in the mid 1800s, German settlers founded the Missouri wine region and Augusta became, for a time, the wine capital of the country. Prohibition forced growers nationwide to pull up wine grape vines (vitis vinifera), and many (including in Missouri) replanted with American species grapes such as concord, a vitis labrusca (or table grape) variety. Following the end of Prohibition, Augusta was slow to return to wine grape cultivation and California eventually took the wine capital title it still holds today.