KIRTLAND, Ohio – Vintage Ohio is no ordinary wine festival.
With some of the state’s best new vintners, demonstrations by chefs, wine education sessions, entertainment, vendors and gourmet foods, the event is a showcase for all that is great about Ohio’s wine industry.
Now in its 27th year, Vintage Ohio will take place Aug. 5-6 at Lake Metroparks Farmpark near Kirtland. It attracts over 10,000 visitors who not only enjoy an array of wines and attractions in a beautiful setting, but learn about Ohio wine in the process.
There are very few wine events in the country that can match it, says Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Geneva-based Ohio Wine Growers Association.
“Our statement is that you can sip a little, shop a little, eat a little, relax, and then sip some more,” she says, adding that the average length of a visit is four hours.
When it was first launched, Vintage Ohio was the only festival of its kind in the region, Winchell says. It has since spawned hundreds of imitators.
“At first, the goal was just to say that Ohio wine existed,” she says. “Now, it’s a showcase of what’s new in the industry.”
The goal of Vintage Ohio is to introduce wine consumers to the full range of what’s available. Toward that end, it focuses on new and lesser-known wineries that are building a reputation for quality.
“You already know about the [major wineries] in the area,” Winchell says. “It’s the new wineries that we want to let people know about.”
THE VINEYARDS AT PINE LAKE
The Vineyards at Pine Lake is among the wineries selected for this year’s Vintage Ohio. It’s the third time the winery and vineyard on state Route 7, just north of Columbiana, has received the honor.
Pine Lake will offer eight of its wines at the event, including two made entirely of grapes grown on its 10-acre estate: Vineyards White and Lindale.
Joe Glista, winemaker and brewmaster at Pine Lake, says Vineyards White is a blend of four grape varieties. It won a gold medal at the Cold Climate International competition in Minnesota, and the Ohio Wines competition sponsored by Ohio State University and Kent State University.
Lindale, he says, is a sweet wine made from Niagara grapes.
Pine Lake’s other wines are made from grapes grown in Ohio, New York, California and Oregon, Glista says.
The winery will offer five sweet wines, two dry and one semi-dry at Vintage Ohio. These include best-seller Blue Orchard, an apple wine made from apple juice from Haus Orchard in Canfield.
Pine Lake, owned by the Glista family, planted its first crop of grapes in 2015 and opened the following year.
Glista started making beer there a couple years ago, and will offer it at Vintage Ohio’s beer tent.
Northeastern Ohio is a wine-consuming area, and Vintage Ohio aims to increase residents’ knowledge and appreciation of all things grape.
“We want to get it so that you are not afraid to say ‘Gewurtztraminer’ in public,” Winchell says, referring to the varietal wine. “This is an opportunity to discover. [Afterward,] you’ll become more apt to explore wine.”
Many of the wines at Vintage Ohio are hard to find, and can only be purchased at the event and at the winery that made it. “You will find wine that you might not know is even being produced [in Ohio],” Winchell says.
While most wines made in Ohio are sweet, there has been a steady increase in the production of dry, high-end wines “that appeal to the polished palate,” Winchell says.
In addition to the more common sweet blends and fruit wines, there will be cabernets, pinot noirs and chardonnays, she says.
The bucolic setting of Lake Farmpark further elevates the Vintage Ohio experience.
“Unlike many festivals where there is a gauntlet of [winery booths], we are spread out over 30 acres,” Winchell says. “You don’t just get a glass and drink. There are colorful tents, and tables under big trees. It’s a beautiful setting.”
There will also be two stages offering continuous live entertainment from a dozen bands; a variety of food trucks; and artisans showing and selling handmade candles, soaps, gifts, clothing, games, jewelry and glassware.
Bottles of wine can also be purchased to go.
Guests also take home some extra knowledge and appreciation of wine – whether they realize it or not.
“People like to learn about wine, but not be taught,” Winchell points out. “They glean the information from the expertise of the staff.”
Wine and food pairings by chef Lisa Delgado at the cooking pavilion, wine education sessions by enologist Cindy Riemer Wolf, and a series of wine appreciation videos by Lauren Fiala are also part of the Vintage Ohio experience. Guests can also learn about home winemaking from Joe Hoover, a champion winemaker from Cleveland; and home brewing from Brian Seelinger, owner of Brew Mentor in Mentor.
For information and a schedule, go to visitvintageohio.com.
IF YOU GO
Tickets for Vintage Ohio are $37 in advance at visitvintageohio.com ($40 at the gate). Nondrinker tickets (18 and over) are $14; children 4-17 are $4.
New this year is the Riedel Experience which will take place Wednesday, Aug. 3. Guests receive fine stemware from Austrian glass maker Riedel, and an exceptional wine and food pairing. Tickets are $375 per couple, or $195 for a single seat. To order, call the Wine Growers Association at 440 466 4417 during business hours. Only 100 seats are available.
Here is the list of wineries that will be represented at Vintage Ohio:
- Andreas Dekar, East Cleveland
- American Winery, Wauseon
- Breitenbach Wine Cellars, Dover
- Buccia Vineyards, Conneaut
- D&D Smith Winery, Norwalk
- Deer’s Leap Winery, Geneva
- Firelands Winery, Sandusky
- Forever Craft Urban Winery, North Canton
- Gervasi Vineyard, Canton
- Hocking Hills Winery, Logan
- Klingshirn Winery, Avon
- Lincoln Way Vineyards, Wooster
- Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard and Winery, Eaton
- Silver Crest Cellars, Madison
- Swiss Heritage Winery, Dover
- The Vineyards at Pine Lake, Columbiana
- The Wineria, Sandusky
- Urban Vintner, Willoughby
- Vermillion Valley Vineyards, Wakeman