Ohio wineries might not be as well-known as California’s Napa or Sonoma valleys famous wineries, but to Northern Ohio residents, it comes pretty close. Making a trip to the Northern Ohio wineries is a great one-day (or even a multiple day) trip. Since northern Ohio has been blessed with great weather this fall, it is a perfect time to head to the wineries. The wineries offer indoor and outdoor seating where you can sit an enjoy a glass of wine (and in some places food) with friends.
Ohio’s soil is suited for growing a variety of grapes. It’s climate and latitude is similar to great wine-producing countries of Europe. The fertile limestone soil and moderate temperatures along the Ohio River and long Lake Erie produces an excellent quality grape for both red and white wines.
Ohio’s history of growing grapes to produce wines goes back to the early 1800’s. One of the first wine growers in Ohio was Nicholas Longworth, who planted Catawba grapes in the Cincinnati area. After the Civil War, German immigrants brought their sweeter wine making traditions to the Lake Erie Island region where it thrived for decades. Prohibition stopped wine production in the early decades of the 1900’s and it took until the 1960’s for the Ohio wine industry to make a full resurgence and it has been growing ever since. Wine makers in Northern Ohio planted the hardy disease-resistant French-American grapes that continue to be popular today. Ohio’s Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir have gained favor with wine lovers and certain vintages from wineries have won medals in wine tasting events throughout the country.
A 2014 report by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee found over 2.70 million people visited the 175 wineries throughout the state of Ohio. These wineries had a huge impact on Ohio’s economy with employee wages, sales of wine and tourism estimated at nearly $330 million that year. Ohio is #9 in the U.S. for grape production with 5,335 tons produced. It is ranked #7 for wine production at 1.2 million gallons per year.
Northern Ohio Wineries
One of the best areas in Northern Ohio for growing grapes is in the Grand River Valley near Painesville and Route 45. This area the home to a larger concentration of wineries. There are many wineries within this region that you can visit. The fall is a very popular time to visit the Northern Ohio wineries. You can participate in harvest events and festivals or just take in the tranquil scenery. There are many ways to see the wineries including taking a wine tour by Bella Vino Tours. The fall foliage adds to the overall effect of being in another place as you sip local vintages.
There are a variety of small and big wineries in the Cleveland area that are located east in Ashtabula to south in the Canton area to west in Catawba Island. Some offer smaller tasting rooms, while other have expansive rooms, patios, restaurants and grounds for tasting. The larger wineries include Ferrante, Debonne, South Rivers, Grand Rivers and Laurello, but there are so many more in the Northern Ohio area. Each offer lovely vistas overlooking their vineyards and fields. Some of the wineries such as Debonne and Grand Rivers also have well-known restaurants at their wineries. At the wineries, you can sample a variety of their wines via a wine sampler (or flight). These small tastes will give a taster an idea of what the winery produces from their sweeter white wines to dry red wines. Each flight will vary from types to flavors to colors. After you sample the types of wine, you can choose one to have a glass or bottle to enjoy with friends. Each winery will have their trademark brand, style and type of wine. Since they offer such a variety of choices, any wine lover will have many types of wine to choose from.
Ohio’s Wine Crop
The past few year’s weather has been harsh on the wine industry in Ohio, but the 2016 crop could be the best in years per a story in Cleveland Scene. This year, the warmer September and October weather has really helped the wine growers in the region allowing them to keep grapes on the wines longer to gain more maturity. The prolonged heat will help achieve peak ripeness levels, develop complexity, reduce acid and add sugars. The 2016 vintage will not hit the shelves and tasting rooms for another year, but the growers are excited for this year’s crop.
If you are looking for a great escape for a day trip or even for the weekend, head to the many wineries in our region. It is a relaxing day to spend the day and spend some time exploring some of what the Northern Ohio area has to offer.