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November 23, 2009


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I am the owner of one winery importing fruit for icewine from Canada and I am also the president of the Binational tourism alliance (cross border tourism). I see the region as one region, 2 countries. It is one of the things that makes this an interesting place to visit. Imagine the possibilities for the area if we could label as a region, trade as a region and the region was recognized as one (something that is happening in the minds of some consumers already). Growth would be explosive, quality would soar and things would get even more interesting.

Most wineries in the world do not grow all their own grapes. This is an unrealistic expectation from consumers and I suspect it is fueled by wine bloggers ;-). In fact, some of the most popular wines are "bottled in" California - made from imported wine from halfway around the world. Buying grapes, fermenting them, making the wine and aging it using the winery's unique processes is certainly a valid method. Particularly so when the grapes come from less than 20 miles away, rather than the "acceptable NY source" 450 miles away that Long Island is. It's the reason there are growers who don't make wine. I suspect growers acreage rivals winery owned acreage in Ontario, which means most wineries are buying grapes. I am digressing, though.

Regarding the border, I am old enough to remember going across with minimal delay, no ID and very little in the way of questions. At one point gas was significantly less expensive in Canada and it was an easy trip to fill the car's tank. I can't imagine getting across that quickly today, which is sad. From a climate, soil and growing perspective, both sides of the border are identical. Someday the border will again be easy to cross and perhaps the wine regions will work closely together to attract visitors from around the world. The NYC to Toronto trip is an attractive one for lots of people today with the undervalued dollar (and the many weeks of vacation that Europeans enjoy).

But... Terroir is supposed to respect borders drawn on maps! Haven't you seen a map of Burgundy? Every individual postage stamp of land has its own sense of place! How can grapes from across a border possibly be similar?

All kidding aside, I agree. Many producers in the Finger Lakes buy from all over the region, Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka, and Canandaigua and nobody bats an eye because the AVA is "Finger Lakes". Few are lucky enough to be completely estate and have total control over their grapes.

Thanks for bringing this to light.


You bring up some great points including how crossing the border has changed in recent years. Not only can you expect delays more often than not, but customs restrictions of the amount of wine either citizen can bring across doesn't help sales. That is an entire post in itself and you'll be the first person I interview as you obviously are involved in changing things at the border.


Burgundy is still Burgundy even with all those Grand Cru sites and Premier Cru sites divided up. I think Duncan is saying that Niagara is still Niagara.

Since we are speaking of Burgundy, if there were Grand Cru sites here I think Duncan's Arrowhead Spring, FRW and Warm Lake Estate would be classified as grand cru sites of the Niagara Escarpment. ;)

It makes just as much sense as the Lake Erie AVA going through NY, PA, and OH. The point is to highlight the geology, the terrior, not political boarders. I think the Canadian and US Niagara should be considered an IVA (International Viticulture Area).

and Tom, I understand you were making a joke, but on a serious note, I definatly believe in terrior, and I have a good enough understanding of geology and soilmaps to know that an individual "plot" can contain multiple soil groups. but the way the French take it to such an extreem it total BS. they only do it because they were stuck with a completely illogical set of inheritance laws from the Napoleonic era.

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