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Turning apples into wine at Lake Chelan in the US

By Alison Gregor | The New York Times News Service | Updated: 2015-03-07 07:57

When the apple market collapsed about 15 years ago in the region around Lake Chelan in central Washington state, a handful of farmers decided to make the transition from apples to grapes. Though the apple market has recovered, there has been no turning back for these erstwhile orchardists. Along the shores of Lake Chelan, wineries have been popping up as quickly as bubbles in a newly uncorked bottle of Champagne.

Designated an official American Viticultural Area in 2009 and one of Washington's fastest-growing wine regions, Lake Chelan now has almost two dozen wineries clustered around its southern end. The narrow lake, about 50 miles long, has long attracted tourists, in particular Seattle residents only four hours away by car, but now its award-winning wineries have put it on the map for other travelers. The cool nights, arid climate and unique mixture of volcanic and glacially formed soil all make the lake conducive to winemaking, the region's vintners said.

The glacial water often used to irrigate helps create "this wonderful minerality that makes Chelan wines unique - a brisk, almost wet-stone feeling in your mouth," said Judy Phelps, an owner, with her husband, Don, and winemaker at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards ( Hard Row to Hoe, known for a cabernet franc with whiffs of spice and chocolate, opened in 2006, though it did so under the less-than-memorable name of Balsamroot Winery and Vineyard, Phelps said.

Turning apples into wine at Lake Chelan in the US

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