Lake Erie Wine Country is home to the world’s oldest and largest Concord grape-growing region. The 53-mile sweep along Lake Erie runs from New York to Pennsylvania. Grape seedlings were originally brought to the area in 1818, and the Concord grape emerged in 1849. Dr. Thomas Welch founded the region’s first Concord grape development and production facility in 1897. With over 30,000 acres of grape vineyards, Lake Erie is the largest grape growing area east of the Rockies.
If you haven’t tried a wine made from Concord grapes before, you’re in for a surprise. It is fragrant, light, and loaded with flavor. The Concord grape normally creates a sweeter wine. Penn Shore Vineyards developed a light, dry wine with that distinct Concord flavor. Over 23 wineries lie along the lake. A wine country map and guide is available at any winery or tourist stop in the area.
Wineries, Victorian architecture, and amazing views of vineyards stretch out along the lake. Route 5 is especially scenic and memorable during the fall with changing colors. Since 1981, the annual North East Wine Country Harvest Festival, known as “WineFest,” has been held in the Fall. The festival has grown in recent years and now embraces two parks: Gibson Park, one of the original downtown festival venues, and Gravel Pit Park, the largest festival site. It is a blend of crafts, music and wine, and averages around 20,000 visitors each year.
Except for WineFest, the area is not heavily traveled by tourists. Thus, a visit to a local vineyard can be a personal experience, often with the winemaker or family members working the counter in the wine tasting room.