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Northeast Ohio Wine Country: The Center of Ohio Wine

April 3rd, 2009-- by Allan Wright

The center of Ohio wine? You might not know Ohio has a thriving wine (and wine tourism) business – but it does.  According to the website, there are almost 100 wineries and vineyards in the state.

This week I had the opportunity to visit the heart of the Ohio wine industry, located in Northeast Ohio. I live out west and must admit I couldn’t have placed any Ohio cities on a map so I’ll fill in my fellow Westerners.  Columbus is in the middle of the state, Cincinnati and Dayton are in the lower left, Toledo is at the top left, and Cleveland is at the top right on the shores of Lake Erie.

The Northeast Ohio wine country runs east from Cleveland along Lake Erie towards the Pennsylvania border. What I especially liked about the area was that it had the makings of a perfect short getaway weekend.

The center of attention really goes to the small town of Geneva-on-the-Lake. Located only an hour and a quarter from Cleveland Airport, it is easy to reach in addition to being cute.  There are only half a dozen motels and B&Bs in the area but this situation is vastly improved by the Lodge at Geneva On-the-Lake, a beautiful and well-maintained hotel located right on Lake Erie and next to Geneva State Park. The food at the Lodge is excellent and I took an afternoon jog from the hotel through the trails in the State Park next door.

Once you are situated, it is time to try some of the local wine. The Ohio Wine Producers Association lists 19 wineries that are part of the Lake Erie Vines and Wines Trail.  Now, I only visited one winery in the area since I was at a conference so I won’t give you recommendations.  You can get a map from your hotel and explore on your own.

I did, however, have a chance to try a number of Ohio wines at the wine conference I attended and can say there are certainly good ones.  I have a few tips for you.

First, Ohio wines are not necessarily going to taste like the wines you normally drink, especially if you are used to drinking heavy reds.  Consider this an opportunity to expand your palate.  Oregon Pinot Noirs are not heavy reds but they are exceedingly popular in part, I think, because people learned to develop a more sophisticated palate that could appreciate them.  The same could be true of Ohio Wines and you should consider this an opportunity to educate your palate.

Secondly, not all the wines made in Ohio are made from Ohio grapes.  If you are tasting a robust red wine, take a look at the bottle and see if it says California or a grape-growing region in that state such as Lodi.  It’s not cheating to buy wine in bulk from California, remix it, and sell it as your own but I think it’s important for consumers to know what they are drinking.  Grapes commonly grown locally include “cold climate” varietals such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and the local red Chambourcin but the list of local varietals is long.

In all, the Northeast Ohio wine region makes an excellent weekend escape to wine country! (Map courtesy of my friends at the Ohio Wine Producers Association.)

Tags: Allan Wright · United States - Other

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Ryan Reichert // Jun 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Nice article Allan – if you’re interested I can certainly expound, being part of the Grand River Valley AVA in NEO. Let me know if you’d like any contributing material. Cheers!

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