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New York’s Finger Lakes are well-known tourist destinations, and their wines have gained international recognition. But how many Lakelubbers have heard of New York’s Concord Grape Belt and the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail?
The Concord Grape Belt is a narrow, 60-mile ribbon along Lake Erie, stretching from Chautauqua County, New York to Erie, Pennsylvania. This ideal microclimate, with more than 30,000 acres of vineyards, produces the luscious purple fruit known as Concord grapes. The area is home to Welch’s juice and jelly empire and to kosher wine maker Mogen David.
The Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association has spent the better part of a decade making southwestern New York a popular agritourism destination. The non-profit Association was successful in getting the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt designated as New York’s 19th Heritage Area in 2006, the first Heritage Area with a primary focus on agricultural heritage.
The Grape Discovery Center in Westfield, NY featuresa museum, visitors’ center, tasting room and retail shop.
What is there to do in the Lake Erie Grape Belt?
Autumn is a busy time along the Concord Grape Belt, with the Concord harvest running from mid-September to mid-October. The town of Silver Creek, NY, has celebrated the Festival of Grapes on the third weekend of September since the 1960s. Visitors enjoy grape stomping, a grape parade, grape pies and other grape desserts.
The Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail celebrates its Harvest Wine Weekends in November. Sample the wines of 23 vineyards along Lake Erie, including vinifera, ice wines, fruit wines, and specialty wines such as brandies and ports.
What activities are available near Chautauqua Lake?
Not to be outdone by its Great Lake neighbor is 13,000-acre Chautauqua Lake. Portage Road connects the town of Westfield on Lake Erie with Mayville on Chautauqua Lake. The “Old Portage Trail” was used for many years by merchants who shipped goods between the Great Lakes and the Midwest.
Mayville is home of the famous Chautauqua Institution, a National Historic Landmark. Founded in 1874, the Institution hosts about 150,000 visitors each summer with programs organized around the arts, education, religion, and recreation. A special note to cyclists: The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau provides cycling maps around Chautauqua Lake and through Concord grape country.
While you indulge in the bounty of the grape harvest, take some time to enjoy the incredible recreational offerings around Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake: spectacular scenery, sand beaches for swimming, sailing, fishing, water sports, hiking, biking, birding, and antiquing. Discover the quiet beauty of this four-season destination.
Around the globe, it’s estimated there are around two million lakes, inland bodies of water that exist in a wide range of habitats and at many different elevations. Keep reading for amazing…