With more than 2200 acres of vineyards planted throughout Ohio, one might think that enough tons of grapes are produced to meet the needs of the 108 wineries throughout the state. However, even though acreage is increasing, winemakers search elsewhere to locate good quality wine grapes. Quality fruit is a goal for growers in Ohio who often limit yield to 1.5 to 4 tons per acre. The acreage of land planted with grapes is increasing and so too are the numbers of wineries.
Wineries are located throughout the state with the largest numbers clustered in the northeast corner of the state. Ohio has four viticultural appellations:
Lake Erie Appellation
Isle St. George and Grand River Valley
Ohio River Valley Appellation
Loramie Creek Appellation
In the early 1800’s, the American grape Catawba was successfully planted in the south western part of the state. Wines including sparkling wines made from Ohio Catawba grapes became popular throughout the country. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about Catawba grapes along the Ohio River. Disease and the Civil War virtually wiped out the grape industry. As German immigrants settled in northern Ohio in the 1860’s, they brought their knowledge of winemaking and started dozens of wineries. These new wineries were not long lived. Prohibition wiped out the industry and it wasn’t until 1960 that there was a resurgence of the wine industry. In addition to native American grapes the European vinifera were planted along with hybrids.
Although Ohio may have had a sweet beginning with sweet wines made from American grapes, they currently have a mix of wines to meet everyone’s tastes. Many of the vinifera grapes are made into dry wines.
While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.
And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.
Excerpt from Catawba Wine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Visit these Ohio wineries and restaurants that partner with Wine Trail Traveler.