What would you say if asked what the largest wine producing region was in the United States in the 1800s? California? Oregon? You might be surprised to hear that prior to the 1860s, Ohio was the largest provider of wine in the country. In fact, in 1825, Nicholas Longworth planted the state’s first wine vines in the Ohio River Valley. So what happened?
The Civil War took a huge toll on Ohio wine production, costing the region many of the men who made up the workforce necessary for maintaining vineyards. As production decreased over the course of the war, new areas also became available from new states annexed prior to the war (such as California in 1850). Post-war production then steadily shifted westward.
Today, however, Ohio winemakers have seen a renaissance in the industry. Ohio is currently the 6th largest wine producer in the U.S. and has more than 300 wineries. Wine is produced in five American Viticulture Areas, including Ohio River Valley, Grand River Valley, Lake Erie, Isle St. George, and Loramie Creek. The area boasts delicious sweet ice wines (produced by leaving grapes on vine during freezes to concentrate sugars); wines made from hybrid grapes created to withstand the harsh winter conditions and diseases endemic to the region; and a number of traditional types, such as pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, cabernet francs, semi-sweet roses, and even sparkling wines.
The wine lover will find much to enjoy in touring Ohio’s wine regions, not only in wines but in the beautiful settings of wine estates throughout the state. There are far too many to cover, but here are a few recommendations as a start to your tour of Ohio vineyards:
- Laurello Vineyards: Any trip to Ohio vineyards must include Geneva–on-the-Lake wineries, which specialize in ice wines. While there are beautifully set wineries such as the Firehouse Winery backdropped by Lake Erie, Laurello is heralded as one of the best wineries in Ohio. Be sure to try their award winning ice wines, such as the decadent Grace Dolce, a cab franc based ice wine. Other favorites include sparkling pinot noir rose, drier rieslings, and their Christopher Meritage Blend.
- Gervasi Vineyard: Set in Canton, Ohio, Gervasi feels like a trip to Italian wine regions and for good reason. Owner Ted Swaldo has built the estate to feel like Trentino, Italy, the area of his grandmother’s birth. Villas are named after Italian regions and one of the signature estate wines, Lascito, means “legacy.” Dine in one of the three restaurants on the ground offering a range of food from sandwiches to fine dining, and be sure to try the award winning wines, such as their double gold medal winning true cabernet sauvignon, Abbraccio.
- Grand River Cellars: Located in the Grand River Valley, Grand River Cellars offers a rustic wine experience. You can enjoy sipping a pinot grigio on their quiet patio area or try a more intimate setting by dining in their cellar Wine Cave, where you can enjoy the Merlot Reserve, the area used to age their wines. Chardonnays, rieslings, and cabernet francs are all also great choices.
- Old Mason Winery: Just north of Dayton, Old Mason is indicative of wines produced in the Loramie Creek Region. Here you can try the Vidal Blanc, a crisp dry white wine produced by the namesake hybrid grape created for Ohio conditions. You can also try more traditional styles, such as the medium bodied Chambourcin or their Marechal Foch, a hybrid French dry red aged in American oak barrels.
All of these, and so many more amazing destinations, are just a short day trip away from your new Oberer home. Contact our team today to get started on building the foundation for your dream and enjoying the life you deserve.
Guest post provided by Ivan Young is a writer in partnership with designer silverware wholesaler, Silver Superstore.
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