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Clinton backs AVA for Niagara Escarpment

New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is backing the creation of a new US winegrowing region – Niagara Escarpment.

Clinton, wife of former US president Bill Clinton, has written to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau supporting the creation of Niagara Escarpment as an American Viticultural Area (AVA).

‘It is already proving its potential as a world class wine producing region,’ she says in the letter.

A study by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets also concluded that the escarpment was the most promising undeveloped wine region in New York.

The escarpment runs along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, across the border between Canada and the US. The region mainly produces Pinot Noir, due to the cool, maritime climate.

The AVA would be New York’s ninth. A principal in seeking it is Michael J. VonHeckler, owner of Warm Lake Estate, a rising specialist in pinot noir. If the AVA is granted, as expected, it would immediately contain some seven wineries, many of them fairly recently established, ‘and about 10 in the near future,’ said James Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, a trade association.

Since her election in 2000, Senator Clinton, who is expected to seek a second term in 2006 – or to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 – has actively championed the New York wine industry, much of it in longtime Republican territory. New York is third behind California and Washington as a wine-producing state, as measured by acreage planted and annual grape tonnage.

The Canadian side of the escarpment is already well known for its sweet icewine and French producers Boisset and Michel Picard are currently in joint ventures with Canadian winegrowers to produce Pinot Noir.

Written by Oliver Styles, and Howard G Goldberg in New York

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