Sparkling Wines: The Toast of Ohio

Ohio has long been known for its sparkling wines. From the 1830s through the 1850s, sparkling Catawba, grown by Nicholas Longworth on the Cincinnati hillside of Mount Adams, was sold from California to Europe and inspired the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Ode to Catawba Wine.” In time, Catawba plantings appeared from the Ohio River Valley to Lake Erie and into the New York Finger Lakes region.

 

The Ohio sparkling wine tradition still exists, using various grape varieties. In the Grand River Valley Region, Matt Meineke of M Cellars states, “Sparkling wine really deserves to be grown here. Our climate is consistently perfect for its production. It would be a shame to waste the opportunity to make some exceptional sparklers.”

 

Ohio’s short growing season allows for the retention of acidity in the grapes that make the wines crisp, refreshing and just downright fun to drink. In even the most challenging years, the grapes attain enough ripeness for sparkling wine production.

 

Tony Kosicek of Kosicek Vineyards notes, “The nice thing about sparkling wine growing in the Grand River Valley Region is that our cool climate maintains the acidity and holds the fruit flavors in the grapes.”

 

Stellar sparkling wines can be made anywhere in Ohio by matching the grape variety to the region’s mesoclimate. The mesoclimate can have variables like soil type, altitude, and location in relation to Lake Erie. The carbonic acid from effervescence in the wines will often determine the wine’s freshness, elegance, perceived level of sweetness and finish.

 

Sparkling wine production methods include:

 

Méthode Traditionnelle – The traditional method where fermentation occurs in the bottle.

Méthode Ancestrale/Pétillant Naturel (Pét-Nat) – Wine is unfiltered and bottled while still fermenting.

Piquettes – Made by adding water to grape pomace (leftover skins, seeds, and stems).

Gas Injection – The wine is carbonated while in vat.

 

Here are some recommended Ohio sparkling wines to enjoy.

Debonné Vineyards

www.debonne.com

Winemaker Michael Koller mused, “Most traditional production regions have high acid grapes, which happens naturally in the Grand River Valley. If we were in Europe, with a five-hundred-year growing tradition, we would likely be focusing on white, rosé and sparkling wines.”

 

Bethany Ann Cellars Sassy Skydiver White (Grand River Valley); $25

Produced primarily with Vidal and Riesling grapes and carbonated. Pale gold nose, crisp and fruity with a hint of peach and summer flowers. Long finish with a fruity nose and pleasant level of sweetness.

 

Bethany Ann Cellars Sassy Skydiver Rosé (Grand River Valley); $25

A blend primarily of Vidal 97 and De Chaunac for color, fruitiness, and acidity. Pale rose hue, with a subdued nose showing strawberry and red fruit notes. Crisp, clean and long finish.

 

Ferrante Winery & Ristorante

www.ferrantewinery.com

Owner and Winemaker Nick Ferrante related, “I always enjoyed sparkling wine and thought Muscat would make a great sparkler…and it did. I named it ‘Star Seeker Moscato’ and it has won many awards.”

 

Star Seeker Bubbly Blanc (Grand River Valley); $19

A crisp blend of 90% Grüner Veltliner with Riesling and Gewürztraminer. A mouth-watering carbonated sparkler with lingering flavors of spice, mineral and earth in a softly dry style.

 

Star Seeker Bubbly Rosé (Grand River Valley); $19

A carbonated blend of 57% Chambourcin, 36% Cabernet Franc and 7% Pinot Noir. Brilliant reddish/pink hue with ripe red fruit (red apple, cranberry, raspberry and cherry/vanilla) aromas in a textured style and a long finish.

 

Star Seeker Sparkling Moscato (Lake Erie); $14

Carbonated, it offers floral aromas and flavors of peach and apricot in a softly sweet style.

 

Laurello Vineyards

www.laurellovineyards.com

Winery Partner Kim Laurello noted, “Enjoy life in all moments. Pop a bottle of bubbles!”

 

Loving Linda Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé, 2021 (Grand River Valley); $27

Named for Owner and Winemaker Kim Laurello’s late sister, generating proceeds of over $80,000 for breast cancer research. Produced from Pinot Noir and carbonated, it shows a pale rose hue, ripe cherry fruit, earth, and mineral. Dry finish.

 

MIA My Angel Sparkling White, 2021 (Grand River Valley); $27

Named in memory of the Laurello’s godchild. A carbonated blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir without skin contact. Crisp and dry with a pleasant level of effervescence and mineral. Focused and long.

 

 

Kosicek Vineyards

www.kosicekvineyards.com

 

Owner and Winemaker Tony Kosicek observed, “If wineries are to survive in the future, we need to entice the younger crowd with something fun to drink. They are very familiar with bubbles in many other beverages. It makes sense to attract them with easy-to-enjoy sparkling wines.”

 

Rhapsody in Pink; $22.99

A carbonated blend of Pinot Noir and Riesling that shows a light hint of sweetness with crisp cranberry and strawberry notes. A delightful and fun wine. An orchestration of celebration.

 

Sparkling Riesling (Grand River Valley); $22.99

Carbonated. Focused aromas of green apple. Crisp and lingering, softly dry and clean. Refreshing and elegant, a delightful sipper.

 

Traminette (Lake Erie); $22.99

Traminette resulted from a Gewürztraminer/Joannes Seyve cross. Carbonated and offering lightly floral and spicy fruit. Light straw gold. Luscious aromas of peach and spice, elegant texture and a softly dry, clean finish.

 

M Cellars

www.mcellars.com

Matt Meineke, owner and winemaker mentioned, “A special occasion isn’t necessary to enjoy our sparklers. Make opening the bottle the occasion!”

 

Blanc de Blancs, 2021 (Grand River Valley); $49

100% single-vineyard Chardonnay made in the traditional method. Bright, straw-gold with defined aromas and flavors of citrus, hint of earth. Persistent effervescence, small bead and lively acidity.

 

Brut Rosé, 2020 (Grand River Valley); $36

Pale pink hue with aromas of ripe strawberry and tart cherry with mineral overtones. Crisp and distinct flavors and long finish typical of the traditional method.

Sparkling Madelyn, 2022 (Grand River Valley); $25

Carbonated Riesling, named for the Meineke’s second born. Aromas of green apple, pear and lemon zest with fruit cocktail overtones and softly-sweet finish.

 

Fruitblood

www.fruitblood.com

Josh Elliott, owner and winemaker related, “I make sparkling wines because I really like them, which is one reason I gravitate toward them. You just have to pick your price point.”

 

Love Bite, 2021; $29.99

A Pét-Nat blended from white grapes (California) and Montmorency cherries (northern Michigan). Delicate cherry nose. Tart, sour cherry/cherry pit flavors and earth/minerality. Crisp and lingering.

 

Feral Cat, 2021; $29.99

A Pét-Nat blended from Albariño and French Colombard (California) and Loganberries (Oregon). Dark fruit, blackberry pie notes with firm, lemony acidity. Medium-bodied.

 

There is an abundance of available styles and price points of Ohio sparklers, from casual sippers to very complex wines, which rival the world’s best.

 

Prices and vintages may vary.

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