DiscoverEast Coast America is Emerging in the Wine Space

East Coast America is Emerging in the Wine Space

Whenever I think of wine in America, my mind drifts to the vineyards in Napa, California, or the rich soils of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. However, when I started to dive deeper into my wine education, I learned that there is wine all around the USA, not just on the West Coast. I grew up on the east coast in New England and I have recently learned about all the amazing wines that grow there despite the fact that I spent almost my entire life there with no knowledge of it whatsoever. The East Coast has blown up in the past 20 years. While the West Coast still dominates the wine industry in the United States, the East also creates some intricate wines that will surprise wine lovers. 

Climate

Anyone who has visited the East Coast knows that the climate can be temperamental. While California enjoys a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild winters, the East experiences an extremely varied climate. From Virginia’s humid and mild climate to New England’s four drastic seasons, different types of wine can be found in these new areas, adding a level of complexity and character to the wines being made here. 

This diverse climate is suitable for wine production, even though it may give wine producers some headaches with the shorter growing seasons, late spring frosts, and summer storms. It turns out that these varied temperatures throughout the year can really benefit the grapes that are grown here. In Virginia, the humid subtropical climate provides a longer growing season, enabling grapevines to flourish. On the other hand, in regions like New York’s Finger Lakes, the colder continental climate allows many different grape varieties to grow. While the winters are harsh, they are balanced by the moderating effect of the nearby bodies of water, which allows for successful grape growing!

Finger Lakes Vineyard

The Lake Effect 

A major issue in growing grapes is keeping them warm enough to fully ripen. This is why we see most of the major northern regions near massive bodies of water. As temperatures drop during the winter months, these large bodies of water like the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain release heat that has been stored during the warmer months. The heat radiates outward and moderates the temperature of the surrounding land. In the Finger Lakes, there are 11 lakes,  the deepest being the Seneca and the largest Cayuga. These bodies of water help protect the vineyards from the extreme cold, making it possible to grow anything from traditional European grape varieties to the more common hybrids. 

What types of grapes thrive on the East Coast? 

This area has shown remarkable adaptability by excelling in the production of both traditional and hybrid grape varieties. In more southern states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia classic European varieties such as Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are able to thrive. Whereas in the Northern states hybrids and cooler-climate grapes are more common. Seyval Blanc, Marquette, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc are just a few of the varieties that are able to flourish here. Hybrids are bred to withstand harsh winters enabling wine makers to craft unique and flavorful wines.

Our Top 3 Places to Celebrate

While there are hundreds of AVA’s on the East Coast to explore, below are our favorite AVA’s on the East Coast. 

The Finger Lakes AVA, New York

Vineyards to visit: Frank Wine Cellars, Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard, Fox Run Vineyard

Outer Coastal Plain AVA, New Jersey 

Vineyards to visit: Hawk Haven Vineyard, Valenzano Winery, Natali Vineyards

Monticello AVA, Virginia 

Vineyards to visit: Barboursville Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, Veritas Vineyard, King Family Vineyards 

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