By Mark Fisher
The Ohio State University Alumni Association earlier this year added a popular Ohio-born-and-bred Debonné Vineyards Grand River Valley 2017 Reserve Riesling to its four-wine “Oval Collection” online-sales lineup and began contributing a portion of every wine purchase to Covid-19 relief for health-care workers and students.
Tony Debevc, co-owner of Debonné Vineyards and a 1969 graduate of The Ohio State University, says he was asked to submit samples to the alumni association, which ultimately gave a thumps-up to the reserve Riesling.
The 2017 Reserve Riesling is made in an off-dry style, with 1.5 percent residual sugar. It is the winery’s most popular wine in terms of restaurant placements, and one of its top three wines in overall sales, Debevc says.
The alumni association placed an initial order for 56 cases of the Riesling. “That’s a nice order for us,” Debevc says. The wine sells for $16 in the Oval Collection, which includes three other wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Chardonnay, all from California.
When the alumni association first launched its Oval Collection wine fund-raising effort in late 2017, it included only west-coast wines in its lineup. That did not sit well with some OSU alumni, some of whom made their displeasure known.
TheWineBuzz published a story in early 2018 under a headline of “OSU Alumni Association Muffs Golden Opportunity to Recognize Rising Quality of Ohio Wines.” One web reader commented on that story, saying “The wine industry in Ohio makes such a huge economic impact on the state. It’s hard to believe that The Ohio State University would be so blind to the quality of wines we produce here. I can only hope that something is in the works to make a change for the next vintage.”
Ten months later, the OSU Alumni Association added an Ohio-grown-and-bottled wine to its selections: The Buckeye Blush from The Winery at Versailles in Darke County in west-central Ohio. (The “Buckeye Blush” name was in place well before the wine’s selection, by the way.)
Ohio’s wine industry leaders praised the decision at the time, but they also said they hoped it was just a start.
“The Ohio Grape Industries Committee is excited and honored to have an Ohio wine included in this year’s Oval Collection,” Christy Eckstein, executive director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Grape Industries Committee told TheWineBuzz at the time. “With more than 300 licensed wine manufacturers in the Buckeye state and nearly two dozen of our winemakers being alumni of OSU, this is a great way to promote the long-standing partnership between Ohio’s grape and wine industry and OSU, specifically the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.”
The OSU Alumni Association’s Oval Collection wines can be ordered at partners.vinoshipper.com/ohio-state. The wines can be shipped to 42 states, including, of course, Ohio.
They can even be sent to Buckeye fans who live in that state up north, too.