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World’s largest wine appellation comes into being

The USA will soon have the world's largest wine appellation - the 4m hectare Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA.

Covering 48,142km sq (4.8m ha or 29,914 square miles) over four states, the AVA averages 193km (120 miles) from east to west, 362km (225 miles) from north to south.

It encompasses some or all of ten counties in Minnesota, nine in Illinois, 18 in Iowa, and 23 in Wisconsin. The northern boundary begins near St Paul, Minnesota in the north to Moline, Illinois in the south.

The AVA is more than double the size of Wales (20,779km sq), and fifty times greater than Bordeaux (100,000ha or 1000km sq).

Representatives of the four states involved filed the petition in 2006. It will take effect 22 July 2009.

Lake Wisconsin, established in 1994, is the only AVA which currently lies within the new UMRV AVA.

It contains producers of some repute. The Wollersheim Winery of Prairie du Sac, for example, works with a range of grapes including Sangiovese and Bonarda, and has earned some 267 medals over the past 20 years.

The application for the UMRV AVA was based upon evidence of a glacial retreat 15,000 years ago.

The resultant water flows combined with the St Croix River and what became Lake Superior to form this bedrock.

As federal tobacco subsidies have diminished, and wine consumption has risen in the US, many tobacco farmers, especially in Wisconsin, have switched over to growing grapes.

Due to the abundance of cold and humidity, French and other hybrids dominate the region.

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Written by David Furer

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