And at last year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, it should be noted, Ohio swept the “best dessert wine” Sweepstakes Award again, this time with the 2013 Ferrante Winery Grand River Valley Vidal Blanc Ice Wine.
In other words, Ohio’s ice wines are putting Ohio wines in general in the national, and international, spotlight. Many of those wine competitions draw entries from outside the U.S.
Both Debonne and Ferrante are located in the Grand River Valley in the northeast corner of the state. Closer to home, Valley Vineyards near Morrow in Warren County also makes a fine ice wine from Vidal Blanc grapes. Joe Schuchter, part of the third generation to operate the family-owned winery, said the wine is a hit with tasting-room visitors, and has shown up as an ingredient in innovative cocktails in some southwest Ohio nightspots.
Also closer to home, Caesar Creek Vineyards (caesar-creek.com) east of Xenia in Greene County, which opened in February 2013, got a nice little shout-out recently from Brian Yost, author of The Virginia Grape wine blog (thevirginiagrape.blogspot.com).
Here’s a little taste of what Brian had to say about his visit to Caesar Creek:
“All of the wines were exceptionally well crafted and quite surprising. I didn’t expect to discover wines of this quality, made from hybrid grapes in a little-known wine-producing area. …
“Southwestern Ohio is producing exceptional wines; it’s just a matter of educating the public. For my part, I was completely blown away by the quality of the offerings and strongly advocate supporting this winery. So make an effort to stop by.”
Walter Borda, Caesar Creek Vineyards’ founder, took great pride in particular that Yost praised the potential for hybrid grapes in southwest Ohio, some portions of which are too cold to reliably produce “vinifera” wines of European origin that are most recognizable to wine consumers (chardonnay, riesling, cabernet sauvignon).
And that’s important because weather events such as last January’s Polar Vortex — which wreaked some havoc in Caesar Creek’s vineyards and in many other Ohio vineyards — may encourage vineyard owners to plant grape varietals that wine drinkers may not be too familiar with, but which may turn out to make some very good wines.
“We can in fact make darn good wine from hybrids grown in our own back yard,” Borda said. “If we in our region play our cards right over the next five to 10 years, we may be able to develop a bit of a reputation for our wines.”