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The Grand River Valley in Northeast Ohio – it’s a little piece of viticultural heaven-on-earth formed thousands of years ago when glaciers carved out the Great Lakes and deposited a ridge of fertile soil ideal for the cultivation of vineyards.

Like the Mosel, Bordeaux and the Sonoma/Russian River Valley, the gently rolling landscape of the Grand River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) benefits from a climate moderated by the thermal effects of a large body of water, in this case, Lake Erie to the north.

The Valley’s contours promote the effective circulation of warmer air, reducing the threat of frost in the spring and extending the growing season so the grapes are able to ripen to perfection. These gentle slopes also help carry away the rainwater from the vine roots so that the vines don’t absorb an overabundance of water that could dilute the concentration of flavor, sugar and other quality attributes.

This model, micro-climate characterized by warm, sunny days and cool nights makes it one of the best viticultural areas to be found and also one of the smallest. Within a span of 10 miles you can visit the best the region has to offer including the areas largest estate wineries as well as some of the most unique and boutique.

Grand, indeed, is the Grand River Valley American Viticultural Area. And grand are the estate wineries with their European style, award winning wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc. Look for their labels in local wine shops and restaurants.