When it comes to the top wine regions in the United States, many people think of Northern California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. However, Ohio has a rich history of winemaking and is home to some excellent wineries, particularly in the Ohio River Valley, that are receiving attention at national and international competitions. The following are two of the best wineries to visit in the Buckeye State.
Located in Morrow between Cincinnati and Dayton, Valley Vineyards stands out as the largest vineyard in southern Ohio. The winery has been run by the Schucter family since 1970 and has won a number of awards for its wine over the years. The winery’s award-winning wines include the 2016 Vidal Blanc, which won the Double Gold Medal at the Ohio 2017 Ohio Wine Competition. This white wine features fruit flavors and the aroma of melon, apple, pear, and melon.
Valley Vineyards’ other white wines include White Reflections, which won the Silver Medal at the 2017 Ohio Wine Competition. This medium-bodied wine consists of Vidal Blanc, Cauyga Chardonnay, and Seyval Blanc and features overtones of citrus and ripe pear.
Valley Vineyards’ red wines include its award-winning Merlot, which took home the Gold Medal at the Ohio Wine Competition in 2017. Aged in oak barrels, this wine has hints of ripe plum, black cherry, currant, and dark chocolate. The winery also produces a wine called Hillside Red, which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in small oak barrels for 12 months, this red wine features aromas of red cherry and strawberry and goes well with light fare.
Valley Vineyards also produces award-winning meads, with its Honey Mead winning the Double Gold Medal at the 2017 Ohio Wine Competition. This wine is made with 100% clover honey and goes well with creamy cheeses and a number of desserts, including apple strudel and flourless chocolate cake. Another award-winning mead is the Select Bourbon Barrel Aged Mead, which took home the Bronze Medal at the 2017 Cincinnati International Wine Festival.
Valley Vineyards welcomes visitors to tour its wine cellar and sample its wines in its tasting room, where wine experts explain the benefits of the Ohio River Valley appellation. The winery also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including music events with local artists and half-price glasses of wine.
Meranda-Nixon Winery is located in Ripley, an area that was one of the biggest grape-growing regions in the United States in the 1800s. Situated on a former tobacco and grain farm, the winery has planted 14.5 acres of vineyards with six varietals: Traminette, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Norton, Chardonnay, and Catawba.
In recognition of its commitment to excellence, the winery has garnered a number of awards for its wines, including the 2017 Estate Reserve Chardonnay. The winner of the Double Gold Medal at the 2017 Ohio Wine Competition, this wine encompasses a range of flavors, starting with a buttery flavor and moving on to oak, lemongrass, butterscotch, and citrus flavors.
White wine lovers should also try the 2017 Catawba Estate Wine, a blush wine with strawberry and raspberry flavors. Meranda-Nixon Winery also produces the 2015 Estate Sparkling Catawba, which is one of the winery’s newest products. The winner of the Silver Medal at the 2016 Ohio Wine Competition, this wine features the sweetness of the Catawba but with a dry finish. Finally, white wine enthusiasts should try the 2017 Trotter White Wine, a great summer wine with citrus and pineapple flavors and a smooth finish.
Meranda-Nixon Winery’s red wines include the 2015 Estate Norton, which was aged in 100% American oak barrels for 12 months. This full-bodied wine, which is both sweet and tart, features strong berry flavors and an oak finish. The winery also blends its Norton grapes with Traminette to create the Red Oak Creek, a semi-sweet wine with raspberry and berry flavors. Aged in stainless steel, this red can be sipped chilled or at room temperature.
The winery’s red wines also include the 2016 Estate Cabernet Franc, which features cherry flavors and a peppery oak finish, and the 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a ruby red wine with black cherry notes and hints of tobacco and vanilla.
Visitors can sample these wines in the beautiful one-story tasting room, which features a covered patio with views of the vineyards. A truly unique place to sample the winery’s excellent wines, the tasting room has a working Victrola by Victor, as well as walls painted with beautiful frescos.
These two wineries offer an excellent introduction to the wine country in Ohio, specifically in the rich, fertile Ohio River Valley. Before you visit, be sure to check their websites for updates on the latest vintages and awards. Also, don’t be afraid to stop by other wineries during your stay. You may find that this beautiful region becomes one of your favorite places to explore boutique wineries and discover excellent new wines.