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Lake Erie Wine Country

Submitted by on April 20, 2011 – 12:48 amNo Comment

Lake Erie Wine Country, located in the largest grape-growing region in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, extends roughly 45 miles from Silver Creek, Chautauqua County, New York, to North East, Erie County, Pennsylvania. By the end of 2011, it will be home to some 23 commercial and estate wineries.

The southern shore of Lake Erie has a long grape and wine heritage that begins with the geological history of the area. During the Ice Age, glaciers descended from the north, gouging out great trenches and bringing with them tremendous quantities of Canadian soil, rocks and boulders. As temperatures began to warm, these glaciers receded, filling the trenches with glacial melt to form the Great Lakes. In their wake, they left ridges of fertile soil and gravel along the Lake Erie shore.

These glacial ridges are the basis for ideal growing conditions for wine grapes and many fruit trees. The well-drained gravel-loam soils and the moderating effect of the lake on spring and fall temperatures combine to create the perfect growing environment, or terroir, for healthy vineyards and premium wines. In the past five decades, a significant number of vineyard sites have been replanted with well-known premium wine grapes, including both French-American and European vinifera varieties.

A brochure (available online) outlines the trail, from Burch Farms and Presque Isle Wine Cellars on the west to Willow Creek Winery and Merritt Estate Winery.

There are frequent events along the trail. Next up is the Wine and Cheese Weekend May 13-15, 2011, visitors to the wineries will sample cheeses paired with wine. Tickets are $35.

(Photo of concord grapes courtesy of Heritage Wine Cellars)

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