Lake Erie Wine Country, located in the largest grape-growing region east of the Rockies, extends roughly 50 miles from Silver Creek, New York (Chautauqua County) to Harborcreek, Pennsylvania (Erie County). It is home to over 20 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. Some of our winery owners pioneered successful techniques for growing these wine grapes in our region.
The Pennsylvania Limited Winery Act of 1968 and the New York Farm Winery Act of 1976 allowed individual grape farms to establish small wineries, limited to an annual maximum of 250,000 gallons or 50,000 gallons respectively. Passage of the laws sparked the creation of a chateau industry whose wines rival the quality of premium vintages throughout the world.
Today, Lake Erie Wine Country produces wines for all tastes, from fruity native Labruscas and exquisite French-American wines to European-style wines. The styles produced here are unique and diverse, resulting in wide-spread consumer enthusiasm. Many of our wines, particularly our whites, compete with and often beat those of competitors’ on an international stage.
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