Geological features of Fox Run Vineyards in the Finger Lakes

Geological features of the Finger Lakes

Around 12,400 years ago, as the last of the North American Laurentide ice sheet retreated from what is currently western New York, meltwater formed a proglacial lakes. Simultaneously, the Scandinavian ice sheet that covered all of Scandinavia, Finland, northern Germany, Denmark, Poland, the Baltic States and northeastern Russia retreated creating similar freshwater lakes and mountainous terrain.

Geological features of the Finger Lakes 2

Over the next millennium, Lake Dana lost elevation as water drained eastward to the Mohawk valley and eventually to the northwest through an opening in the Pinnacle Hills, setting the course of today’s Genesee River. Lake Dana formed during the time that Lake Warren retreated to create Lake Iroquois.

Geological features of the Finger Lakes 3

As water flowed out of Lake Dana, a succession of unnamed lakes formed until the waters were reduced to an elevation of 455 feet, and became what we now call Seneca Lake. Lake Dana’s ancient shoreline, now lying well above Seneca’s, runs along the western boundary of our property. A thick layer of sandy loam has accumulated over the shale and stone of the proglacial lakeshore. This fertile, well-drained soil is ideal for the cultivation and ripening of Riesling vines.

Geological features of the Finger Lakes 4

Ancient shorelines aren't the only geological characteristics that have been identified on our property. Evidence of a paleodelta formed in a post-glacial setting after Lake Dana began to drop from their proglacial elevations. The paleodelta formed at a higher lake level and thus are now present as hanging deltas exposed on hillsides adjacent to the modern lakes.

Geologists identified our hanging delta by the complex soil patterns near Seneca Lake. The gravelly silty clay that dominates most of the vineyard transitions into a sand loam. The distinct layers of unique sand (topset sandy load and lens sandy loam) and clay-rich forests (including brown and pink clays) were deposited by an ancient stream.

Geological features of the Finger Lakes 5

The unique topography of the Fox Run hanging delta reaches its highest elevation at 508 ft. suggesting a lake level in between Lake Dana (660 ft.) and Seneca Lake (450 ft.). As you can see in the illustration, the Finger Lakes sit at varying heights and a large variance in depth.

V-shaped river valleys broadened and carved into a U-shape by glaciers. When the end of such a glacially broad valley is blocked by glacial debris, the valley can become a long, narrow lake. This process formed New York State’s Finger Lakes.

View our vineyard map to see the locations of these geologic features.