The Lake Erie viticultural area has a 150 year history of grape growing and wine making. There are approximately 40,000 acres of commercial wine and processing vineyards in the Lake Erie viticultural area. It is distinguished from the surrounding regions by its nearness to the lake, which exerts a moderating influence on the area – the fundamental factor that permits viticulture in this region. New York State’s Lake Erie Region is the largest grape growing region outside of California. The vast majority of Chautauqua County’s 16,500 acres of grapes are used for grape juice, but seven wineries also produce a variety of finewines.