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Niagara Escarpment AVA approved

The Niagara Escarpment Viticultural Area is the latest AVA in New York State to be approved by the government.

The appellation will give the state a region that can specialize in pinot noir. The new AVA (American Viticultural Area) has eight wineries and about 400 acres of vineyards. The appellation, which can be put on wine bottles, will go into effect at the beginning of October.

The viticultural area gets its name from the Niagara Escarpment, a limestone ridge that runs for more than 650 miles through the Great Lakes region. In New York, it lies a few miles south of Lake Ontario. The Niagara River flows over the escarpment, creating Niagara Falls.

Michael J. VonHeckler of Warm Lake Estate Vineyard and Winery, which makes pinot noir, petitioned the government to establish the AVA.

VonHeckler discovered the warm benchland zone – locals call it a ‘banana belt’ – under the escarpment. He thought the geology resembled the Côte d’Or’s, planted pinot noir and hit a Burgundian jackpot.

He says of the AVA: ‘It’s a powerful marketing tool. It will be recognized worldwide.’ VonHeckler’s petition was supported by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

New York is the US’s fourth major wine-producing state, after California, Washington and Oregon.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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