Best Wines in Northeastern Ohio

February 10th, 2022 by

When you think of Northeastern Ohio, many things may come to mind, but it’s probably not wine. Well, that’s about to change. Northeastern Ohio produces several wines worth noting from what used to be America’s most famous wine region. Let’s explore Ohio’s wine history, highlight a few wineries for you to visit if you’re in the area, and share the best wines in Northeastern Ohio.

Ohio’s Wine History

wine glass about a quarter full of red wine sitting on a ledge in front of a wine vineyard

Image by Kym Ellis is free to use under the UnSplash License

At one time, Ohio was one of the most famous wine regions in the United States, dating back to the 1820s. Nicholas Longworth planted the first grapes in the Ohio River Valley in 1825, making him the father of Ohio wine. By the late 1850s, the wine industry in Ohio was flourishing as the largest wine-producing state in the nation. Cincinnati was the hub of Ohio’s wine industry to keep the influx of European immigrant wine drinkers satisfied.

Then the Civil War happened, and because of Ohio’s large population and central location, anyone who was able went to fight in the war, leaving nobody to tend the vineyards. This lack of laborers started the decline of the Ohio wine industry, which continued to decline as the wine industry began to shift to California and the infamous Napa Valley. Then the Prohibition movement came along. Politicians and prohibitionists pressured the vineyards to limit, then stop, wine production, causing the farmers to switch to table grapes instead of the ones better suited for wine.

The Ohio wine industry recovered from all of that and is currently thriving once more as the 6th largest wine-producing area in the nation, featuring over 300 wineries. Ohio hosts multiple wine festivals, wine events, and wine trails that make wine tasting easy to organize and fun. Ohio is home to five American Viticultural Areas (AVA) found on wine labels: Ohio River Valley AVA, Grand River Valley AVA, Lake Erie AVA, Isle St. George AVA, and Loramie Creek AVA.

Ohio’s Wineries

With over 300 wineries across the state, it’s hard to pick just a few to highlight. Even narrowing the options down to only those in Northeastern Ohio doesn’t reduce the number by much. A few of the top wineries in the area include the following:

Sharon James Cellars

What began as a hobby at home in 2004 has grown into a full-blown wine-making dream. Sharon James Cellars is located at 11303 Kinsman Road in Newbury Township, with hours on Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., opening Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., and closed the remainder of the week. They serve new wines regularly and seasonal beer on tap from two local micro-breweries.

Laurentia Vineyard and Winery

After four years of purchasing land and planting grapes, Laurentia Vineyard and Winery opened its doors on July 1, 2015. Since then, they have produced award-winning wines every year, including multiple awards for the 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Stoltz Block. Laurentia is nestled between Lake Erie and the Grand River Valley at 4599 S. Madison Road in Madison. Hours vary with the season, and current winter hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Winery at Wolf Creek

For over thirty years, the Winery at Wolf Creek has been inviting guests to taste their wines, enjoy the scenery, and feed the goats. You can also walk the mile-long trail along the vineyard. The Winery at Wolf Creek also offers several small meat and cheese, chocolate, and salty snack options for you to purchase to pair with your wine. You’ll find them at 2637 S. Cleveland Massilon Road in Norton. Fall and winter hours are Sunday through Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., closing at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Ohio Wines

Now that you know a little more about Ohio’s vast wine history and have a few vineyards you can plan to visit, let’s share some of Ohio’s famous wines.

Grand River Valley Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

The Grand River Valley Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is produced by the Ferrante Winery and Ristorante, located in Geneva at 5585 State Route 307. It offers aromas of orange blossoms and rich apricot, with ripe melon and honey flavors balanced by crisp acidity. This wine won the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Chardonel: Stainless Steel

Cornell University had the vision to cross chardonnay and seyval to create a chardonel, which the Bent Ladder Cider and Wine has perfected with Chardonel: Stainless Steel. This wine is fermented at a low temperature to preserve the lemongrass and light citrus aromas, lending themselves to the complex flavors of tangerine pith and tropical fruit. Bent Ladder Cider and Wine is located at 13550 Mount Eaton Road in Doylestown.

Frenzie Frontenac

The semi-sweet Frenzie Frontenac is produced at the Bokes Creek Winery at 26211 U.S. Highway 31 in Raymond. Made with a Frontenac varietal, a hybrid known for being cold-hardy with a short growing system, this wine won the silver medal at the Ohio Wine competitions in 2017 and 2018.

2020 Michael Angelo Pinot Grigio

Taking home the 2021 Overall Best of Show award is the 2020 Michael Angelo Pinot Grigio from Michael Angelo’s Winery, located at 5515 Broadview Road in Richfield. This wine displays aromas of peach and ripe apple, along with hints of vanilla and banana. The subtle sweetness and crisp acidity offer the perfect blend in this smooth pinot grigio.

You can’t go wrong with adding an Ohio wine to your dinner table, picnic basket, or special occasion. The team at Volkswagen of Streetsboro hopes you find time to visit as many of the local wineries as possible, enjoying samplings of the sweet and dry Ohio wines that keep the region a top wine-producing part of the United States. If we missed your favorite winery or wine, reach us at 330-342-7000 or via our convenient and secure online messaging service. We’re always looking for a reason to pop the cork on a new bottle of wine to try.

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