Odds and Ends Summer Wine Overview

To do something different and to acknowledge that summer (July 4th) has arrived, I have put together some wine sources (book and not book) for tourism, shopping, business, and general knowledge.  Returning readers may know that I looked at Roger Gentile’s Discovering Ohio Wines, which looked at all of these aspects of the grape industry from 20 years ago.  I discovered a few new resources that fill the gaps on modern wine making in Ohio and I have a business proposal at the end.  Enjoy the summer!

Seeing, drinking, and buying wine from the Winery:

Latimer, Patricia. Ohio Wine Country Excursions, Updated Edition. Akron, Ohio; Ringtaw Books, 2011.

Updated in 2011 (and printed by University of Akron’s Ringtaw Books imprint), Latimer has a concise overview of the wine industry in Ohio with information on 80 wineries.  The title would indicate that this is a travel guide, but I feel that the book covers the whole wine industry in Ohio and could be used as a reference source by a consumer at the liquor store and general geeks of the wine industry.  

The individual winery listing are quite useful in that they include every wine available with Latimer’s preferences given for best red and white.  I noticed that Latimer prefers the French varietals over Vitis labrusca [Concord, Catawba, etc.] and fruit wines.  (This is quite understandable for a serious wine guide, but there is no comparison of best Niagara or peach wine.)

If you are interested in the history of wine in Ohio, this guide has one of the more detailed overviews of pre-Prohibition winemaking in Ohio.  (There are also volumes written on early wineries, but those can be saved for another day.)

Overall, Ohio Wine Country Excursions probably will suffice as the one reference you will need for buying, visiting and thinking about wineries in Ohio.

Tadevich, D. L. A Travel Companion to Lake Erie Wineries.  Carmel, Indiana, Publishing-Plus, 2002.

As opposed to Ohio Wine County Excursions, A Travel Companion to Lake Erie Wineries is a travel guide first.  Tadevich includes two tours of Ohio Lake Erie Wineries – one tour focusing on the island region east to Cleveland and an eastern tour covering Lake and Ashtabula Counties.  While only covering 12 wineries, Tadevich’s writing is accessible and would be a good resource to all readers as she takes the time to explain the winemaking process and common terms heard (but never defined).

For those interested in only wines judged as deserving an award, I recommend checking out the list kept by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (http://www.tasteohiowines.com/award-winners.aspx#1).  Their website claims that there are over 150 registered wineries in the state.

Making and Selling Wine:

Even if you are not interested in starting your winery or wine bar, the guide Ohio Winery Basics (www.com.ohio.gov/liqr/docs/liqr_WineryBasics.pdf) put together by the Ohio Department of Commerce is a fun and informative read. Yes, fun is the correct term. This government document deals mainly with laws associated with selling wine and beer.  Such questions as “Why do some retailers not sell wine on Sundays?” (the short answer is money) and “How is the price of my wine determined?” are answered.

Also, for those wanting to start a winery, the Ohio Wine Producers Association posted a detailed article by Chris Stamp with many, many numbers and graphs.

Appellations of Origin and AVAs:

There is a tradition in winemaking to designate the region, or appellation, a wine was grown. This is supposed to (and does) group wines with a specific climate and soil.  Consumers may see a designation listed on the label for a Appellations of Origin.  These are very big in Europe (and much more stringent in terms of grapes and percentage of grapes used) and have seemingly always existed in the United States.  Traditionally, this process of designating an appellation was handled by local or state government, but this was taken over by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in the early 1980s.  These appellations are officially known as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

You can look up all your AVAs at http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/avas

Why am I telling you this?  Ohio has five AVAs (wines can also receive the label appellation of simply Ohio): Lake Erie, Isle St. George (North Bass Island), Grand River Valley (parts of Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties), Ohio River Valley, and Loramie Creek.  These do not quite align with the promoted wine trails.  Of note, there is a Laromie Creek AVAs that exists completely in Shelby County (county seat Sidney).  To my knowledge, there are no vineyards/wineries in this region.  If you are interested in starting a winery in Shelby County, please contact me.  I hate seeing an appellation going to waste.

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