Wisconsin Ledge AVA
The Wisconsin Ledge AVA in the Door Peninsula region of eastern Wisconsin.
|Type||American Viticultural Area|
|Total area||3,800 sq mi (9,800 km2)|
|Size of planted vineyards||320 acres (129 ha)|
The Wisconsin Ledge AVA is an American Viticultural Area in northeast Wisconsin along the Niagara Escarpment (locally referred to as "The Ledge") in Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Calumet, Outagamie, and Brown counties. Certified by the United States Department of the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on March 22, 2012, it covers an area of 3,800 sq mi (9,800 km2) and is the second AVA designation wholly in Wisconsin, following the Lake Wisconsin AVA established in 1994. The state's third is the gargantuan Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA which also covers land in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
The topography of Wisconsin Ledge is the result of ancient glacial movement over the region. The land on the peninsula slopes gently upward from the shores of Lake Michigan to the top of the Ledge, before dropping sharply off into Green Bay. Most of the vineyards lie on these eastern-facing slopes that benefit from constant air movement from Lake Michigan, which stores warmth during the summer. The presence of the lake produces a vacuum of sorts during the growing season: warm air over the lake rises, sucking colder air off the land and creating offshore breezes. Cold air cannot settle over the vineyards and there is a constant flow of warmer air, making the growing season here longer than in other parts of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Ledge's glacial soils are made up of gravel, sand and clay over limestone bedrock. An aquifer below the AVA provides mineral-rich ground water to the vines, encouraging deep root growth. The hardiness zone is almost entirely 5b. In the winter of 2005 Steven J. DeBaker of Trout Springs Winery, petitioned the Federal Government to establish a new AVA for NE Wisconsin, based upon a land mass called the Niagara Escarpment. After 7 long years, and with the help of NERN (Niagara Escarpment Resource Network) for GIS mapping, The Wisconsin Ledge became a bonified AVA which hosts some 20 bonded wineries, and approximately 400 acres of wine grapes. Trout Springs Winery is the birthplace of the Wisconsin Ledge AVA. On April 23rd 2012, the Wisconsin Ledge became the 203rd AVA in the US. With just under 2.5 million acres of land, it is the 12th largest AVA in the USA. The AVA runs 138 miles North to South, and is 55 miles wide at the widest point. Several mitigating factors were presented by Steven J. DeBaker to the Federal Government including a cumulative 10 degree warmer temperature, established by showing data from weather stations along the corridor. This moderation is created by the Marine Influence surrounding the AVA affected by Lake Winnebago, the bay of Green Bay, and Lake Michigan. Another defining feature quite specific to the region is the Limestone bedrock, and Karst present which releases fog and moisture into the air from a constant 50 degree ground water presence. The minerals present in the bedrock give a regional minerality to wines made here unlike other places close by. Other factors like soil composition, (glacial till) Hydrology, (ground water) and prevailing 13-15 mph wind all led to the establishment of this appellation of origin by the TTB. There are only 242 AVAs at present in the US, with well over 100 in California alone. Establishment of this AVA has led to a spike in Vineyard and Winery activity, and continues to be a regional tourist destination.
Notes and references
- Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.224 Wisconsin Ledge." Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Nov 14, 2012.
- Appellation America (2007). "Wisconsin Ledge (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Nov 14, 2012.
- Appellations of Origin from the TTB website
- AVAs with links to detailed descriptions, from the Code of Federal Regulations located at a Cornell website
- Interactive Google AVA map from American Winery Guide
- Upper Mississippi River Valley American Viticulture Area website
- The Great River Road Wine Trail website
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau citation 77FR16674<references/>