East Coast Wine on the Rise

While the focus of American wine has long since been on California, Oregon, and Washington; you will now be seeing more wines from the East Coast Region on domestic and international shelves. Wine production and quality have been steadily increasing along the East Coast, most notably in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Rhode Island.

Climate

The Eastern United States climate is generally humid and rainy. Before planting, soils are heavily tested to insure the vines will be in their prime location. Areas that are more nutrient dense are favored over those with ample drainage, although you have really hit the jackpot if you find an area with both. 

Vineyards in states like New York and Pennsylvania have an annual threat of frost. Because of this you will see more hardy grapes grown and more adaptations in the vineyard to minimize the threat. 

Within the past ten years, the East Coast has seen a very steady increase in the growing degree days. While this can benefit the grapes, there is also more threat of increased rain throughout the season and more volatile weather in general. 


Viticulture and Enology

Because of the humidity and wet climate along the East Coast, there is a huge threat of fungus, powdery mildew, and rot among the grapes. Heavy fungicide use is essential to keeping the vines healthy because once these problems set in, they are very hard to get rid of and can spoil an entire vineyard.

Previously you would have seen most of the vineyards growing native grapes like Lambrusca, however plantings have shifted to more Vitis vineifera European native grapes and hybrids. Grapes that have thicker skins and naturally grow looser clusters of grapes will do better here. Popular white varietals grown here are Albarino, Vermentino, Gruner Veltliner, and Viogner. 

While the red grapes here lack the acidity and boldness you will see on the West Coast, they tend to be more elegant and readier to enjoy shortly after bottling. Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are the two most popular red grapes planted on the East Coast. 

You will see a blend of Old-World traditional wine making styles along with a more modern approach. Many East Coast wineries are a host for fresh young winemakers, often ones who have a science or agriculture background.

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Tourism

The wine tourism industry has quickly grown on the East Coast. Wine trails, wine tours, and a host of events attracts locals and tourists from all around. Often played off the already spectacular local attractions, wedding and event venues are often seen alongside vineyards. 

Monticello, Brandywine Valley, Two Bridges, Cape May, and Chesapeake Wine Trails are a must visit for anyone looking for a spectacular wine weekend. 

The wine industry is booming on the East Coast and attracting international attention. When planning your next wine weekend, think about visiting the Eastern states-which may even be closer to home! In a couple decades we will look back on this revolution and admire the ability to adapt viticulture to our surroundings. 


Wine Storage

Hot temperatures are normally the number one problem for wine. But on the east coast both vineyards and consumers run the risk of letting the wine get too cold. Storing your wine correctly can prevent both problems. Using wine racks is a way to keep the wine from spoiling and also looking great in your home.


by Christian of ILoveWine.com

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