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.   Continue reading


Discovering Ohio Wines

Gentile, Roger L. Discovering Ohio Wines.  Columbus, Ohio; Enthea Press, 1991.

Some time back, I said that someone should write a reference book about Ohio wines and winemakers.  Little did I know that Roger Gentile had already done so, be it two decades ago.  Because a great deal has changed in the Ohio wine scene over the last 20 years, Discovering Ohio Wines is a historic document.  But, it has its virtues for the wine historian.

When Discovering Ohio Wines was published in 1991, a new generation of Ohio winemakers was becoming established.   While the pre-Prohibition wine  industry in Ohio is very extensive (Ohio was third largest wine-producing state in 1909 [16]), the industry hit a sweet bottom in the 1950s with many of the old wineries closing up shop.  During Prohibition, many wineries switched to growing Concord exclusively for juice and jam products.  Tastes were changing, where Joe Winedrinker wanted a California Pinot Noir over a Lake Erie Pink Concord. Continue reading

A Taste of Ohio History

Nunley, Debbie and Karen Jane Elliott. A Taste of Ohio History: A Guide to Historic Eateries and Their Recipes.  Winston-Salem, North Carolina; John F. Blair, 2001.

Combining travel, architecture, and food, A Taste of Ohio History, is the second state in a unique series.  The authors have compiled a list of almost 100 historic eateries in the Buckeye state.  The restaurants fall into two categories: 1) Historic venues that have been around forever (forever being at least a hundred years), and 2) New venues that have opened in an old space.  And on top of that, they have thrown in some recipes. (Usually two or three per institution.)  Not quite a foodie book and not quite a guide to historic architecture.  Some crazy adventure in-between.

I like this idea because it is different, but familiar.  I do not believe there is a historic restaurant association, but there could be.  The authors go one step further by classifying the historic eateries: main street (the place, not the idea), former mills, transportation [several train depots], taverns, cabins, and more.  These classifications conveniently show up as chapters.

I don’t see a reader going through the full text in one siting, but the short articles for each eatery is efficiently put together.  In less than five hundred words, Nunley and Elliot are able to give a history of the building and its surroundings, an overview of the food served, and a history of the current ownership.  Hence, history, architecture and food.  This is not brain surgery, but each article is lively and has been well researched.  Though each review covers the same basic material, no review sounds alike.

The authors’ base is Pennsylvania, which is the subject of their first publication.  After A Taste of Ohio History, they published a guide to Maryland and Virginia.  For obvious reasons, I cannot recommend the other titles, but if you are ever heading east…

Brewing Beer in the Buckeye State

Musson, Robert A. Brewing Beer in the Buckeye State, Volume 1: A history of the brewing industry in easter Ohio from 1808 to 2004. Medina, Ohio; Zepp Publications, 2005.

Though I like having many books around me, I am a fan of the all-in-one reference guide. With Brewing Been in the Buckeye State, Musson attempts to capture everything about beer history in Ohio. While there have been numerous histories of specific breweries or breweries of a city (which I hope to talk about soon), Musson attempts to capture the history of beer in all of Ohio. Volume 1 features the eastern half of the state (Columbus is not in this volume). From the Introduction, there are plans for Volume 2 covering the westside.

Talking about brewery history is somewhat like talking about the passenger train history in the United States. The business today is nothing like it was 50+ years ago. The brewery industry was essential to most (if not all) industrializing cities from the late 1800’s until Prohibition. On a physical scale, Musson outlines the enormity of the ‘modern’ brewery at the turn of the century. These five-plus story structures populated the landscape of Ohio. With the passing of generations, most of these beer makers have long been forgotten and the actual products is even farther lost on the modern drinker. Continue reading

Farms & Food of Ohio

Suszko, Marilou K. Farms & Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2007.

Are you looking for a travel guide/recipe book/local foods manifesto? Then Farms & Foods of Ohio will not satisfy all of your needs, but it may keep you interested. Published by Hippocrene Books, who sells many travel guides and cookbooks, this creation was listed as part of the American State Series. Other than New Jersey, I have been unable to locate another in this series. Ohio’s gain and the rest of the non-Garden State Union’s loss.

Farms & Foods of Ohio is divided about half-way between recipes and profiles of Ohio farmers. The collection of recipes is eclectic, but I would classify it more towards the fine dining experience as opposed to comfort food cuisine. I find this the logical route for this book as the recipes should be driven by the ingredients. (I am sure comfort can still be taken from eating the many dishes.) The recipes are likewise organized by ingredients, so if you are looking for a specific type of dish, I would recommend using the fine index. (Looking for a Pawpaw Lassi recipe: Go to Drinks or Pawpaw).

I found the farm profiles to be the unique resource in Farms & Foods. Suszko has written feature articles on about 40 food business (produce, meat, wine, and seeds) throughout the state. The majority of the businesses discussed are along the major population corridors. This makes sense regarding consumers frequenting the retail outlets and for products going to market. That said, some of the businesses are in somewhat non-ideal locations: Luers Nut Farm (possible the largest nut-farm in Ohio) is outside of Mansfield and Freshwater Farms of Ohio is located near Urbana (referred to as the driest part of the state). But, as you will learn, the proprietors of the business are doing what they want, where they want to live.

Of personal interest, I enjoyed Suszko’s profiles of Ohio wineries. She does the service of selecting 5 wineries from differing regions of Ohio. I am always looking for books on the Ohio wine industry. One can never have enough Ohio wine.

While many of the articles talk about multi-generational farms, there are also quite a few non-native Ohioans and young people running these businesses.  Is Farms & Foods of Ohio a motivational guide for the gastronomic entrepreneur?  As cited in the Introduction, over 75 percent of Ohio farms are less than 179 acres.