Coming Soon: The Champlain Valley of New York Viticultural Area

It’s official: New York State will welcome its tenth American viticultural area (“AVA”) into existence on September 21, 2016! On August 22, 2016, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) published a final rule establishing the Champlain Valley of New York Viticultural Area. This approximately 500-square-mile area in upstate New York is distinguished by its cold climate and short growing season, which are too harsh for most Vitis vinifera varieties but well suited to North American hybrids. The TTB rule takes effect on September 21.

The soon-to-be Champlain Valley of New York AVA is located in Clinton and Essex Counties and is currently home to eleven commercial vineyards covering a total of approximately 15.47 acres. There are also six wineries within the region.

Commercial Vineyards with Wineries Commercial Vineyards
North Star Vineyard
Vesco Ridge Vineyard
Elfs Farm Winery
Amazing Grace Vineyard
Hid-In-Pines Vineyard
Stonehouse Vineyard
Purple Gate Vineyards
Four Maples Vineyard
Blue Stone Vineyards
Bessboro Farm
Edgewater Farm

There is also a vineyard operated as a research facility by Cornell University near the southern boundary of the region. The petition was filed by Colin Read, owner of North Star Vineyard, on behalf of the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association.

As mentioned above, the harsh climate of this region sets it apart from surrounding areas. Cold-hardy hybrids are best suited to the short, cold growing season and glacial soil that sits atop bedrock. The indigenous grape variety is Vitis riparia, a wild river grape. The most popular red grapes are Marquette, Frontenac, and Leon Millot, and the most popular whites are La Crescent, Seyval Blanc, Brianna, Chardonnel (a cross between Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc), and St. Pépin. For more details, see the TTB docket and my original post.

The dominance of hybrid makes the Champlain Valley of New York a unique and exciting wine region. Hopefully the establishment of this AVA will bring greater visibility to the wines produced there. In the meantime, I look forward to celebrating “Champlain Day” on September 21!