Geography and climate: Lake Erie

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes, and is the one that provides the most protection against extremes of weather to western New York, since it is lower in latitude and downwind from the Arctic air masses that prevail over lakes Superior and Huron. (Lake Michigan provides similar benefits to the states around its southern tip.)

Furthermore, besides the beneficial effects of the lake itself, the 3-mile wide Allegheny plateau, which runs parallel to lake Erie, extends the lake’s moderating influence. The Lake Erie AVA was established in 1983, and includes three states spanning 40,000 acres/16,200 ha: New York around Chautauqua, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, with counties that border on the lake. About 19,000 acres/7,700 ha are planted, giving Lake Erie the largest acreage in NY, but it has only 17 wineries to date since most of the grapes planted in the region are for grape juice and table grapes—a result of pressure from Prohibitionists in the early 19th century.