The southern shore of Lake Erie is the gateway to wine country in western New York and Pennsylvania. Some 20,000 acres of grape vines blanket Chautauqua County in southwestern NY, making it the country's top largest grape-producing county outside of California. 12,000 more acres of grapes in northwestern PA combine to make the Lake Erie Chautauqua area a wonderful place for a wine adventure.
Location / Directions:
Lake Erie Wine Country stretches for 40 miles along the southern shore of Lake Erie. The wineries are located on both sides of Interstate 90 between the town of North East in Erie County, PA, to Merritt Estate Winery in Forestville, Chautauqua County, NY. You can travel the entire stretch from beginning to end, or just visit a winery or two.
Admission & Fees:
At most wineries in Lake Erie Wine Country the tastings are free. Tastings of more expensive wines may incur a small fee, often refundable if you end up purchasing a bottle.
What to Expect:
Lake Erie Wine Country spans two states and includes 23 wineries along a 40-mile stretch between Erie, PA, and Silver Creek, NY. Amidst the vineyards sit Lake Erie beachfront communities, charming villages, and picturesque agricultural farms with orchards and produce stands. Most of the Lake Erie area wineries are open daily. Typically they open about 10 a.m. or noon and close around 5 or 6 p.m., although spring and winter hours tend to be reduced, especially during the week.
Best Time to Go:
At least once per month, the Lake Erie Wine Country consortium puts on a special wine tasting event. Favorites include the "Holiday Wine Weekends" in early November, a "Wine and Chocolates Weekend" in February and a "Wine and Antiques Weekend" in August. Early to mid-October is another beautiful time to visit, as the grape harvest coincides with peak fall foliage.