When people envision “wine country”, they think of Napa Valley and California. However, Ohio was mass producing and distributing wine well before California was even an American state. in 1823, Cincinnati resident Nicholas Longworth began planting Catawba grapes in the Ohio River Valley. The sweetness of the Catawba wine gained popularity around the world and by 1859, Ohio became the leading producer of wine in the nation. There were 3,000 acres of grape vineyards between Cincinnati and Ripley, Ohio. At that time, Cincinnati and Brown County was considered the most important region in the American wine trade. By the turn of the 19th century, wineries started to inhabit northern Ohio and the Great Lakes region as well. Prohibition was passed in 1919 and nearly annihilated Ohio’s wine economy. Ohio’s wine industry later recovered and recently, wineries have been popping up all over the state. Today, Ohio is the 6th largest wine producer in the U.S. and largest in the Midwest. Over 3 million gallons are produced each year.
The legally defined geographic region where grapes are grown is called an appellation. With over 16 million acres, the Ohio River Valley Appellation is the second largest appellation in the United States (after the Mississippi Valley). The Ohio River Valley is also home to the birthplace of American viticulture (the study of grape cultivation).
Photo via: Huffington Post
Note: OhioWines is the official wine association for Ohio. You can check them out here!