The Niagara Escarpment AVA is an American Viticultural Area in the New York state portion of the Niagara Escarpment. The area was officially recognized as an AVA on October 11th, 2005, by ruling of the United States Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The oldest winery in the region dates to the 19th century (no longer in business), but the region's growth began in the late 1990s with the opening of the first winery.
There are now 12 wineries making up the Niagara Wine Trail. This wine region is less developed with more open spaces than the 70 or so Niagara Peninsula wineries on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, but shares the same terroir. the area “derives its name from the Niagara Escarpment, a limestone ridge that runs for more than 650 miles through the Great Lakes region. This limestone ridge forms one of the factors that nature has brought together to nurture grapevines. Lake Ontario to the north, the Niagara River to the west, and the Escarpment to the south all work together to protect the vines.
The escarpment holds the air warmed by the lakes waters and protects the land in the immediate area from drastic temperature changes. According to the application for the official designation as a viticultural area, the Niagara Escarpment’s “well drained soils, a steady but moderate water supply” in combination with the mineral content found in the soils, “result in superior pigment and flavor compounds in the resultant wine.”
Wines range from traditional varietals such as Merlot, Cabernets , Chardonnays and Rieslings to fruit wines.
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.
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