In 1818, Deacon Elijah Fay planted the first grape vines of the Lake Erie Wine Country, located in the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt. Fay’s relatives planted the premier Concord vineyards in Brocton, New York, where the mighty Concord grape thrived. Vineyards were planted along the shore of Lake Erie in both New York and Pennsylvania, attracting the likes of Dr. Charles Welch, who relocated his grape juice operations to Westfield, New York, in 1897. Regional wineries sprung up during the grape boom of the 19th century but went out of business due to Prohibition in 1919. While New York permitted commercial wineries after Prohibition, it was not until 1968 when wineries were allowed to reopen in Pennsylvania. Today, the Grape Belt spans almost 60 miles along the southern shore of Lake Erie. Quaint towns dot the Grape Belt, which is now home to the Grape Discovery Center and boutique wineries that welcome thousands of visitors each year.
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