The Ohio Grape Industries Program, a state office within the Department of Agriculture, recently released the results of a Consumer Perception study conducted by a hugely respected Cincinnati agency.

The OGIP is a partner with Ohio Wine Producers in many of the projects we jointly promote.

The results of the research were both interesting and instructional for our wineries. It will help all of us do a better job in telling the story of our industry to the larger world of wine. 

 The information will also help us to provide a better consumer experience: to make it more interesting for those serious consumers looking for great wines and a little (or a lot) of knowledge, as well as more fun for those millions who simply come to enjoy our wines, our food and all we offer in a relaxed environment.

Since this part of the state is so often identified as “Ohio’s Wine Country,” and since many of our residents are very wine savvy, I though sharing some of this information might be interesting to many of you.

The agency, Northlich, shared that the research shows we exist as an industry to celebrate Ohio wines.

They shared that the world sees us as a community of wine drinkers who create unique experiences and offer craft beverages for all types of wine drinkers.  

They said we offer a diverse selection of wines, activities, education and environments. They said we are “diverse but not disconnected, inviting but not over bearing, passionate but not bossy, knowledgeable but not pretentious, fun but not wild.” 

The closing paragraph of the report stated: “The Ohio grape industry is passionate about creating unique experiences that allow people to enjoy Ohio Wines. With an unpretentious attitude, we ensure all wine drinkers feel welcomed to, educated about and included in the Ohio Wine industry. When you explore with us, you’ll find a wide variety of unique options and experiences that meet your many expectations.”  

These conclusions all came from face-to-face interviews with dozens of consumers carefully selected to reflect those who enjoy all kinds of wine and from hundreds of online interviews with those identified as Ohio wine lovers.

Boy, at least in my opinion, did they hit the nail on the head. Others, anecdotally, have come to similar conclusions.

In an eight-page spread a couple of years ago in “Midwest Living,” the writer, Jon Bonné, author and wine writer for the LA Times, observed that the Grand River Valley and Conneaut Creek wineries offered lovely wines in a relaxed and inviting way. 

Attendees at the License to Steal Conference, hosted annually at the Lodge, come from dozens of states and comment favorably on exit surveys regarding our wineries and their tasting room experiences.

Responses on surveys from consumers traveling our Vines and Wines Trail frequently use similar terms.

As a part of the study, the agency created a series of “action steps,” some simple to implement, others which will take more time and effort.

Over the next couple of years, for the programs managed by Ohio Wine Producers, we will try to follow their template to support an ever stronger, more dynamic and consumer-centric experience in Lake and Ashtabula Counties’ own Wine Country.

Our office would also be interested in readers’ reactions to the researcher’s conclusions.

If you have a comment, send it to dwinchell@OhioWines.org. We welcome your own observations and suggestions.

Help us grow and help us celebrate Ohio wines.


Donniella Winchell is the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association.