Wine production has a long a storied place in Ohio history. The state's Catawba vines were once a main source of grapes for the nation's wine production. In the early 19th Century it was root stock from grape vines in Ohio that helped the famous French wine industry overcome a disasterous infection to their own vineyards. Ohio's grape and wine production continues to be an integral component of Ohio's agriculture industry. It contributes nearly a half billion dollars to Ohio's economy and accounts for more than 4,100 full-time jobs.
James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, recently honored four Ohio Quality Wines as Director's Choice recipients at an event held at the Statehouse for retailers, distributors, restaurateurs and winery owners.
More than 25 wines were evaluated by a panel of judges, on behalf of Director Zehringer, for the highly coveted award. The 2011 award recipients are:
White Wine (tie): 2010 Signature Series Golden Bunches Dry Riesling Ferrante Winery of Geneva and Ohio Reflections of Lake Erie Old Firehouse Winery of Geneva.
Red Wine: 2010 Cabernet Franc Valley Vineyards of Morrow.
Specialty Wine: Sweet Genevieve Ice Wine Laurello Vineyards of Geneva.
All of the Director's Choice award recipients have already received the Ohio Quality Wine award designation. It was created in 2007 by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee and is assigned to wines made from at least 90% Ohio-grown grapes. These wines must also achieve at least 15 of 20 points on a sensory evaluation and pass a chemical analysis before receiving the quality seal. European vinifera and French American hybrid grapes may be used to make all wine styles, and Labrusca (native grapes) may be used to make fortified wines.
By focusing on wines made from Ohio grapes, the Ohio Quality Wine program will spur the expansion and renovation of Ohio's vineyards to meet the needs of Ohio winemakers. The program provides four judgings per year to include all possible wine releases. Chemical analysis also sets this quality program apart from others by identifying flaws that can be missed when only sensory testing is used.
The Ohio Grape Industries Committee is housed at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and provides wineries a means to market their top-quality wines against well-known California and European wines.
To learn more about the program or for a complete list of Ohio Quality Wines, visit www.tasteohiowines.com.