Ohio seizes spotlight at international wine competition

By Mark Fisher

Ohio wineries shrugged off any home-field advantage that New York State wines might have had in the Rochester, New York-based Great American International Wine Competition earlier this year by capturing four coveted Platinum Medals, the top designation for a wine in this judging.

Ferrante Winery and Ristorante excelled in the competition, earning three platinum medals for its 2019 Gewürztraminer, 2017 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine and 2017 Golden Bunches Dry Riesling. And Laurello Vineyards was awarded a platinum medal for its 2019 Sweet Genevieve Vidal Ice Wine.

The 2020 Great American International Wine Competition attracted 680 entries. Only 41 wines, or 6 percent of the total entries, were awarded the top designation of a platinum medal.

With a powerful boost from the trifecta from Ferrante, Ohio wineries won as many platinum medals as New York State wineries did in the New York-based competition.

“We’re just trying to make good wine,” Ferrante owner and winemaker Nick Ferrante told TheWineBuzz after the results were released. “We use good blending techniques and very good grapes that we grow. Some luck helps, too.”

Laurello’s platinum-winning ice wine is named after winery co-owner Kim Laurello’s mother, “so for the wine to be recognized in that way is extremely special to me,” Kim told us.

Grapes for the 2019 Sweet Genevieve Vidal Ice Wine were picked on Dec. 18, 2019, during a narrow window of opportunity in an otherwise unseasonably warm month, Laurello Vineyards Winemaker Brad Indoe said. It was a last-minute decision to enter such a young wine into the Great American competition, Laurello and Indoe said.

“For the last 18 years, Ohio has really stood up and put our state on the map with excellent vinifera varietal wines and with ice wines,” Laurello said. “People are now looking to Ohio for wonderful ice wines.”

Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, said Ohio is making world-class wines, many of which are sold primarily in winery tasting rooms.

“It has been a challenge to share with the ‘connoisseur class’ of consumers this new generation of great wines unless they visit our wineries and taste for themselves,” Winchell said. “However, as we win more top medals in major competitions such as this one, we have begun to pique their interest.

“To continue the momentum, it important that more of our best wines are submitted to major competitions, that we get more quality vines in the ground, and that we all shout our mutual successes to the world.”

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