Two wines produced by Valley Vineyards near Morrow in Warren County — the winery’s 2012-vintage syrah and its 2012 cabernet franc — tied for the designation of “Best Red Wine” in the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Quality Wines “Director’s Choice” competition.
More than 30 Ohio wines that had already achieved an “Ohio Quality Wine” designation were evaluated by a panel of judges, on behalf of Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels, for the “director’s choice” award. Ohio’s grape and wine production is an integral component of Ohio’s $105 billion food and agriculture industry.
Valley Vineyards has won the best-red designation three of the last four years. The same two wines in earlier vintages — the Valley Vineyards cabernet franc and the winery’s syrah — tied for “best red” in 2012, and the winery’s cabernet franc captured that honor solo in 2011.
The results are significant because northeast Ohio has a disproportionately large concentration of the state’s vineyards and estate-grown wines. Sweeping the “best red” category three out of four years is a feather in the cap for vineyard owners and winemakers in the southwest quadrant of the state as well as for Valley Vineyards.
The 2012 Firelands Barrel Select Chardonnay and the 2012 Ferrante Signature Grand River Valley Riesling tied for the “Best White Wine” designation, while the Ferrante Vidal Blanc Ice Wine won top honors in the “Specialty Wine” category. Firelands is in northern Ohio, near Sandusky, and Ferrante is in the Grand River Valley in the northeast corner of the state, about 50 miles northeast of Cleveland
The Ohio Quality Wine designation was created in 2007 by the agriculture department’s Ohio Grape Industries Committee. The OQW designation is assigned to wines that are made from at least 90 percent Ohio-grown grapes and which score highly on a sensory evaluation and pass a chemical analysis.
Since January 2013, 16 wines from Valley Vineyards have earned the “Ohio Quality Wine” designation. Elsewhere in the Miami Valley, Caesar Creek Vineyards between Xenia and Jamestown in Greene County has earned OQW status for five of its wines, and Brandeberry Winery in southern Clark County and The Winery at Versailles in Darke County have each placed one wine in the OQW category since January 2013.