Lehigh Valley (AVA)
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New AVA calls to Manhattanites for a Day in the Wine Country
by Clark Smith
March 9, 2012

Lehigh Valley wineries have evolved rapidly since the appellation was established in 2008 with a combination of both outstanding vinifera and hybrid wines. The close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia makes discovering and exploring the diversity of this region a wonderful visit to PA wine country. One that will surely impress those not already in the know.

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Lowdown on Lehigh Valley


On April 10, 2008, a 1,888-square mile area in southeastern Pennsylvania became officially known as the Lehigh Valley AVA. The new appellation is home to 12 vineyards and about 220-acres of vineyards that support the region’s nine wineries. All of the region’s wineries are small family-owned businesses growing much of their fruit on estate vineyards, and there is excitement among them as the new AVA-designation has finally made it possible for them to identify their wines with an “estate” designation.

The Lehigh Valley is marked by the Lehigh River which empties into the Delaware River near Easton. Appalachian mountain ridges mark the region’s northern and southern boundary. The Delaware River is the area’s eastern limit, while the Berks and Schuylkill county lines cut the region off on the west.

The swath of land enjoys a similar climate and well drained, silty soils of broken shale and sandstone. The best performing and most heavily planted varieties include red grapes Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc and whites Vidal and Riesling. Of these, it is the vinifera-esque French-American hybrid red Chambourcin that vintners in the region have resolved to make Lehigh Valley’s signature wine. The grape is versatile, flexible, and performs well in Lehigh Valley and local winemakers vinify it in a range of styles, including sparkling and rosé.

Despite winegrowing being widespread across the state of Pennsylvania, other than the Lake Erie AVA, which extends from Ohio, through Pennsylvania and into New York, appellations are largely absent or ignored in this large, diverse state. However, within the Lehigh Valley there is resolve among the producers to promote their hard earned appellation designation, and given the producers’ unanimity and history of cooperation, “Lehigh Valley” will likely take hold more than some other lesser-known, lesser-used Pennsylvania AVAs such as the Cumberland Valley and Lancaster Valley AVAs.
~ David Falchek, Pennsylvania Regional Correspondent

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In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.  [>] continue


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Correspondent

Christopher Bates
is the Regional Correspondent for Lehigh Valley.

Recommendations

Lehigh Valley is hidden amid the beautiful rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania, and is just 90 minutes west of Manhattan and 60 minutes north of Philadelphia.

The Valley is home to three historic cities; Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton and has an abundance of scenic countryside and quaint towns throughout the area. Lehigh Valley is easily accessible by major highways and an international airport.

Members of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail welcome guests to their tasting rooms year round, to taste and explore the diversity of vinifera wines such as Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cabernet Franc or Gruner Veltliner to hybrid wines such as Chambourcin or Vidal Blanc.

The destination offers a wide variety of tourism activities from casino gaming to year round recreation, along with wineries. A visitor to Lehigh Valley can enjoy a round of golf in the summer, ski or snowboard in the winter and everything in between. The area is also home to cycling, arts & culture and history as well as a great selection of special events from community fairs to regional food events all featuring the areas' local authenticity. Enough choice to compliment any wine tasting experience.

Visitors can expect dining choices from the discriminating to the sublime; upscale, gourmet restaurants right out of Manhattan to small, out-of-the-way places serving tasty ethnic cuisine. Culinary exploration to pair with regional diversity in winemaking is a very real opportunity to enjoy.

Variety in accommodations from a special night in a mansion, to historic inns and charming B&B's enhance the conventional hotel offerings. Adventurous visitors can spread out under the stars at a variety of campgrounds . Whatever you're sophistication calls for in lodging, you'll find it here.

If you thought you were coming just for the wine there is so much more.

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The AppellationAmerica database identifies 149 wines labeled with the Lehigh Valley designation.

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