Wine: Buckeye in a bottle

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Our state has almost 200 registered wineries. Think on that for a second. Wow.

June was Ohio Wine Month (check out the North Market’s Food & Ohio Wine Festival going on July 12-14).

Wine in the Buckeye State is definitely on the rebound since before prohibition, when the shores and islands of Lake Erie were one of the biggest wine producers in the country.

These days — yes Ohio wineries from Lake Erie to the Ohio River Valley grow their own grapes from age-old vines; others start the production process with grapes trucked in from California, Washington and abroad. Others, still, start with juice from already-pressed grapes.

The result is tons of variety — although dessert-style Ohio ice wines, in their distinct tall and thin bottles, are usually a consistent offering among them (since weather in the state allows grapes to be picked while frozen on the vine).

To explore more, we picked three different bottles from Celebrate Local at Easton, which stocks its back wall with wine from all over the state (most at quite reasonable prices):

Camelot Cellars Wildberry Shiraz ($12)

This sip, made in the Short North from grape juice itself, is exceptionally fruity — especially strawberries. Although there’s a slight alcohol “bite” when you take your first sip, it quickly fades to tasting much like fruit juice.

2011 Firelands Pinot Grigio ($11)Green apple flavors are forward in this wine — to the point of making it seem rather tart and refreshing. Firelands’ estate rests just west of Lake Erie in Ohio’s first American Viticultural Area (aka designated wine-growing region).

2009 Debonne Chambourcin ($11)

The French-American hybrid chambourcin grapes for this wine are grown on the Grand River Valley east of Lake Erie, and to me, they have a cabernet-like quality with plenty of tannins. Enjoy it with something meaty, like braised beef or sausage-topped pizza.