Growing Grapes in New York

New York is the third largest grape-producing state in the country, next only to California and Washington. 172,000 tons of grapes are harvested in this region every year, 4,000 of which are sold as table grapes and the rest are processed into wine and grape juice. There are about 1,400 vineyards and 250 wineries all over the region. New York state has four major appellations. These are the Lake Erie area in the west, Finger Lakes region in the west-central area, the Hudson River Valley in the east, and the eastern side of Long Island. Long Island and the Finger Lakes area are popular growing areas for Vinis vitifera varietals, particularly because of the long growing seasons moderated by the surrounding bodies of water and the slopes that regulate air drainage in the Finger Lakes area. Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc are widely grown in these areas. The soils in the Finger Lakes appellation are also gravel and slate-based while those in Long Island are sandy and rich in clay deposits left over by the last glacial advance. The Lake Erie area, where masses of cold air blow in from the Arctic area are warmed by the Michigan, Superior, Huron, and Erie lakes, grows mostly Concord grapes, an American native varietiy used for processing grape juice. This area also produces some French-American hybrids, such as Seyval, which is resistant to this area’s cold micro-climate. Growers in the Hudson River Valley, where air and temperature are moderated by the Hudson River, grows mostly cold-hardy French-American hybrids, such as Baco Noir and Seyval Blanc, which can be used to make wine.

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