The Ohio Wine Producers recently released a new wine trail brochure for this region of the state. La Vigna Estate Winery in Higginsport is part of this wine trail.
A Wine Trail - Ohio River Valley Wine Trail (formerly the Nicholas Longworth Wine Trail)-Southwest Ohio
Southwest Ohio River Valley Wine Trail (formerly the Nicholas Longworth Heritage Wine Trail) celebrates the rise to prominence of Ohio wines, not once but twice.
Nicholas Longworth arrived in Ohio from New Jersey in 1803, the same year the Buckeye State attained statehood. He began importing vines from Europe, planting hundreds of acres overlooking the ‘Beautiful’ Ohio River and in the hills surrounding the city of Cincinnati. He soon discovered a native variety called Catawba would produce an exceptional sparkling wine. By mid century, his success in winemaking was recognized across the nation and into Europe itself and his sparkler was immortalized by Longfellow in the famous ‘Ode to Catawba.’ He was dubbed ‘the father of American winemaking.’ Supported by nearly 3000 acres of vines, Longworth’s cellars grew annually and by 1860, he produced over 570,000 gallons, with plantings spread from Cincinnati to Ripley.
However, through the next 30 years, diseases attacked the vines and the ravages wrought by the Civil War caused most of his vineyards to be abandoned. The first winemaking chapter in southwest Ohio ended with Longworth’s death.
In the early 1970’s the Ohio River Valley again emerged as the leading region in the state’s viticultural history. Supported by research from the Ohio State University, newly re-discovered French American hybrids were planted on Wistar Marting’s Tarula Farms near Clarksville. Those original plantings [some of which still flourish in the vineyards of Valley Vineyards in Morrow] prompted modern pioneers to launch a revolution in Midwest winemaking. Literally hundreds of acres across the state of Ohio as well as extensive plantings in Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia trace their ‘roots’ to those original Tarula Farms’ vineyards.
As grape growing and winemaking techniques evolved through the end of the 20th century, additional plantings of Vinifera, or European style varietals, were also found to flourish in the climate and soil conditions offered by the Ohio River Valley. Reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were planted and are showing exceptional promise. The region is also noted for it ability to produce some of the nation’s finest late harvest, or ‘ice wines.’
The vintners of Ohio’s first and most historic wine region invite you to travel the Longworth Heritage Wine Trail -- visit, explore and enjoy the exceptional quality of their finest offerings.
Visit the Ohio Wine Producers website.