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Lake Erie?

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Brian K Miller

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Lake Erie?

by Brian K Miller » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:13 pm

I have an obsession with Google Streetview. For some reason, I dropped the little man on northwestern Pennsylvania along the Lake Erie shoreline. There are A LOT of grapes planted along the lake!

Has anyone tried any wine from the Lake Erie area? I would assume Rieslings and maybe Pinot and Cab Franc? Talking vitis vinifera, primarily????

Just curious...no real reason for asking. :mrgreen: :roll:
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Joe Moryl

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Re: Lake Erie?

by Joe Moryl » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:33 pm

There might be a little vinifera planted among all those vines, but I'm guessing it is mostly labrusca (concord, etc.) and hybrids. Moving north along the shore towards Buffalo, the town of Westfield, NY used to be the headquarters of Welsh's.
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Re: Lake Erie?

by Robin Garr » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:34 pm

Howie can fill in more on that, Brian, but the short story is that those vineyards - and more of the same across the border into New York south of Buffalo - are table grapes, labrusca, grown almost entirely by or for the Welch's company for use in grape juice, grape jello, grape popsicles. Not wine grapes, although as I recall there are a few small vineyards scattered around that make "real" wine. You'd have to look around for them, though.

Howie, didn't you take us to a vineyard down there, either Erie or NY, years back at a NiagaraCool?
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Re: Lake Erie?

by Steve Edmunds » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:38 pm

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Re: Lake Erie?

by Jim Grow » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:13 pm

Although not in Penn. Markko Winery in NE Ohio is, in my opinion, the finest winery in the Lake Erie AVA. Their Rieslings and on occasion their Chardonnay and LH Chardonnay are exceptional but very hard to find in southern Ohio for some unknown reason?
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Brian K Miller

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Re: Lake Erie?

by Brian K Miller » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:36 pm

Steve Edmunds wrote:http://www.thewinebuzz.com/the-lake-erie-growing-season/


Thanks Steve!
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Re: Lake Erie?

by wnissen » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:44 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:I have an obsession with Google Streetview. For some reason, I dropped the little man on northwestern Pennsylvania along the Lake Erie shoreline. There are A LOT of grapes planted along the lake!

Has anyone tried any wine from the Lake Erie area? I would assume Rieslings and maybe Pinot and Cab Franc? Talking vitis vinifera, primarily????

Just curious...no real reason for asking. :mrgreen: :roll:


Oh, Brian, you're such a positive, optimistic person! I visit northeast Ohio almost every year, and the wine situation there is... interesting. Buying wine in general is very expensive due to high minimum pricing, and the selection compared to your typical California supermarket is abysmal. But you were interested in Ohio wines.

The humidity and frost are just too much to make vinifera viable, despite the moderating effect of Lake Erie. However, before the transcontinental railroad and container ships made it cheap to ship goods from California and Europe, the situation was quite different. In the 1850s the catawba grape (a hybrid) was turned into sparkling wine in huge quantities. There is still a lot planted, though it's strictly regional. If you enjoy white zin, it's not that different. Most of the stuff I see is the typical white hybrids: seyval, vidal blanc, etc. The Ferrante winery does a good job, if you like residual sugar, including an ice wine that's affordable and good (not as good as Inniskillin). I've had the odd pinot noir or cabernet franc, but never to much effect. This is not the Finger Lakes or North Fork, where the wines can be very good even if overpriced.

I'd be surprised if there was much in the way of table grape production on Lake Erie. There's plenty of water, but the sun and lack of humidity in California mean that (had to look this up) 97% of the table grapes are grown there.
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Re: Lake Erie?

by Howie Hart » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:01 am

Steve's link is a good one. Whenever I drive from Niagara Falls to MOCOOL I travel along that route and am amazed at the number of grape vines growing along Lake Erie. I take that route to avoid having to pay duty on my home made wine at the Canadian border. While labrusca and hybrids dominate the growing area, there are some vinefera being produced. One of my favorite wineries is 21 Brix, who make outstanding Riesling. They were awarded some high prestige medals a few years ago and I stopped there on the way to MOCOOL to pick up a few bottles for Joel and Sally. I've been to several of the wineries: http://www.lakeeriewinecountry.org/wineries.
Johnson Estate, while making a variety of dessert wines, has also been making Liebestropfchen, for many years. It is a semi-sweet wine made from the Delaware grape and is less than $10. I enjoy it.
That being said, my overall impression, especially regarding vinefera, is that Lake Ontario is a better region for for growing the European grapes. During cold winters, Lake Erie can freeze over and when that happens, because it is so shallow, the vines can be damaged. Lake Ontario, being much deeper, never freezes. The cold water from Lake Ontario moderates the climate such that spring bud break is about 2 weeks later than Lake Erie, limiting late spring frost damage. It also holds the summer heat longer into the autumn, extending the growing season. The Lake Ontario growing region extends the entire length of the Niagara Escarpment from near Hamilton, Ont. to almost Rochester, NY and includes over 100 wineries in Canada and about 25 in NY State, some of which make outstanding wines. Cab Franc and Pinot Noir dominate the red vinefera plantings, but there are also limited plantings of Cab Sauv (which can be good in good years), Lemberger (Blaufrankisch) and Gamay. White vinefera is dominated by Riesling. A lot of Chardonnay is grown in Ontario, but not much on the U.S. side. There are also limited plantings of Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Then, of course, Vidal (hybrid) is grown across the region, mostly for ice wine production.
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Brian K Miller

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Re: Lake Erie?

by Brian K Miller » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:58 pm

Thanks, guys!

Fascinating bit of education!

Oh, Brian, you're such a positive, optimistic person! I visit northeast Ohio almost every year, and the wine situation there is... interesting. Buying wine in general is very expensive due to high minimum pricing, and the selection compared to your typical California supermarket is abysmal. But you were interested in Ohio wines.


LOL. First time I have EVER been accused of THIS crime*! Thanks! :lol:

*MY mind focuses on that 49% of Alabama voters who selected an outright racist theocrat who disdains the law (even ignoring the horrible accusations)
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach

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