One of the nation’s most iconic wine and food festivals will be celebrating a quarter century of success this coming August. In addition to attracting tens of thousands of visitors and serving as the model for dozens and dozens of festivals across the state and country (including a couple in our own county), these past decades have marked considerable success in terms of the styles and quality of wines we produce in the Buckeye State.

While we will never abandon our native Concords and Catawbas, our winemakers have reached beyond their roots to produce amazing wines that have turned the heads of wine judges and connoisseurs from across the nation. To celebrate the anniversary, and to showcase some of our most acclaimed wines, the early pioneers who made a commitment to our future so long ago will be pouring at a 25th anniversary celebration dinner on July 31.

The evening will feature six courses and seven elegant wines. Then on Festival Field, Aug. 2-3, they will be pouring those wines in the Silver Celebration tent. Featured wines and wineries include:

• Debonne’ Vineyards’ 2017 Grand River Valley Unoaked Chardonnay. The description: Cold fermentation enhances the green apple aromas and flavors. Partial malolactic fermentation adds vanilla and buttery flavors with citrus notes in the finish.

• Ferrante Winery’s 2017 Grand River Valley Gewurztraminer. The description: Spicy citrus aroma and flavor, floral notes, off-dry finish.

• Dover, Ohio’s Breitenbach Wine Cellars American Pinot Grigio. The description: A dry white with a bright fruitiness and a hint of citrus. This is a lovely summer wine.

• Put-in-Bay’s Heineman Wine Cellars Lake Erie White Riesling. The description: A crisp, medium sweet white with flavors of apples and peaches.

• Morrow’s Valley Vineyards Ohio River Valley Cabernet Franc. The description: The wine opens with concentrated aromas of cherry and black currant, layered with vibrant spice notes of nutmeg, anise and cinnamon.

• Sandusky’s Firelands Winery 2015 Isle St. George Cabernet Sauvignon. The description: Classic, dark red, chocolate, mint, cedar flavors to a blackberry finish.

• Cincinnati’s Meiers Wine Cellars Brut American Sparkling wine. The description: The hose has a hint of fruitiness along with the yeasty character typical of wines that have undergone a secondary fermentation.

The bottom line: For the dinner, when these wines are presented in a sophisticated wine and food pairing — designed by Lauren Fiala, the Geneva Lodge’s wine specialist and WSET Level 4 candidate — the evening will be memorable.

When tasted on Festival Field during the two days of Vintage Ohio festivities, wine lovers will be amazed at the level of excellence our wineries have achieved in just 25 years — a mere blink in terms of wine history. These 25th anniversary celebrations will illustrate how proud and pleased we are to show off that “we’ve come a long way, baby.”


DONNIELLA WINCHELL is the executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association. She can be reached at

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