Most regions seeking to be designated an American Viticultural Area submit long applications indicating their unique history, soils and climate. In the case of the Champlain Valley of New York, the only significant factor is climate. It is cold. How cold you may ask? Canada cold. Winter Olympic cold.
The Champlain Valley was formed by the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age and were once part of what was called the Champlain Sea and then later Glacial Lake Vermont. Eventually the ice retreated and the majority of the water drained from the region forming Lake Champlain as we know it today.
Abutting the Canadian border and found along Lake Champlain which forms the northern boundary between the States of New York and Vermont, this new appellation is 500 square miles in size and has 15.47 acres under vine (talk about growth potential). The most unique part of the region is that it has a growing season on average two weeks shorter than the surround areas. Even at the same latitude on the Vermont side of the lake it is warmer. Why? Well the prevailing winds blow from west to east crossing over the lake. Water has a moderating effect on temperature by keeping the ambient temperature warmer. What is the effect of the shorter growing season? Well, traditional wine grapes (vitis vinifera) can't be reliably cultivated. Instead the appellations wineries grow North American cold-hardy hybrids such as Frontenac, La Crescent and Marquette. Not familiar with these grapes? Give them a try! You might like them.
Oh, and as an added bonus? Visitors to the region have an opportunity to looks for the area's most famous resident. Champy, is the cryptozoological equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster or Okanagan's Ogopogo.
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