Cincinnati is often called “Queen City,” having first been given that name in a newspaper article in 1819. It was also called “Queen of the West” in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that also noted another thing the city was known for: Wine.
While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.
And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Catawba Wine”
Cincinnati and Hamilton County have a wine tradition going back to the 1800s, led by Nicholas Longworth. He gave the famous poet some of his product, inspiring the “Catawba Wine” poem praising the special vintage and Cincinnati vineyards.
>> Read “Why Cincinnati is a Great Place to Retire”
Longworth planted a vineyard of Catawba grapes along the Ohio River Valley and began making a sparkling wine. From the 1830s through the 1850s, he distributed it throughout the United States and Europe, in the process becoming known as the Father of American Grape Culture.
Dann Woellert, author of “Cincinnati Wine: An Effervescent History,” claims that the California wine industry wouldn’t have existed without the pioneering work that took place first in Ohio by Longworth and other vintners.
Here is more about the wine tradition and wineries of Cincinnati and the Hamilton County area.
The Wine and Wineries of Cincinnati
In his book, Woellert writes about the “Catawba Craze” of the mid-1800s, with other wineries rushing to compete with Longworth’s Golden Wedding Sparkling Catawba. Among the wines produced were:
- Cornucopia by Corneay
- Diamond by Bogen
- Golden Eagle and Red Cross by Werk
- Hillside by Thompson
- National Premium by Mottier
- Queen Victoria by Schumann
Modern vintners have moved on from Catawba to other grapes, such as the Norton. Here are some of the vineyards, how to experience them, and other wine events.
Cincinnati Area Vineyards and Wineries
- Harmony Hill Vineyards – Harmony Hill is a boutique winery in nearby Bethel, Ohio. It serves award-winning wines in its Tasting Bar during normal visiting hours and for private parties of 20 or more. The winery is surrounded by walking trails, flower gardens and manicured grounds perfect for picnicking.
- Henke Winery – Henke was established in 1996 by Joe Henke after he began making rosé from concentrate. The winery has grown from there and has won many awards for its wine. Henke produces its wine in a cellar on Cincinnati’s West Side and is considered one of the country’s top urban wineries.
- Holtkamp Winery – Holtkamp is in nearby Indiana, with the winery offering a variety of wines from its own estate. Holtkamp grows 16 different varieties of grapes on its six acres. Doug Holtkamp started making wine in 2002 and partnered with Jeff McCann, who has 40 years of experience, to produce the estate’s wines.
- Meier’s Wine Cellars – Meier’s has done business in Cincinnati since the late 1800s, producing at first grape juice. The company turned to wine after Prohibition, beginning in 1933. Meier’s produces 30 wines and sparkling non-alcoholic grape juices in nearby Silverton, Ohio.
- Valley Vineyards – Valley Vineyards offers wines, beers and a celebratory atmosphere. They make their own wines and beer and host tastings, cookouts and other events. Valley Vineyards has operated for more than 50 years in nearby Morrow, Ohio.
- Vinoklet Winery & Restaurant – Vinoklet is the only working winery in Hamilton County, Ohio. It serves 12 award-winning wines and also hosts festivals. Vinoklet grows 12,000 vines in its own vineyard in Cincinnati
- Woodstone Creek Winery and Distillery – Woodstone Creek is a boutique winery and distillery, producing up to 200 cases of wine, mead and distilled spirits annually. Its product changes seasonally. Woodstone’s distilled spirits are available at various liquor stores, but its wines are sold only from its tasting room.
Cincinnati Area Wine Tours
- Cincinnati Wine and Dessert Tour – This is a walking tour of Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine neighborhood featuring desserts and wines. The two-hour tour has four tastings of wine and desserts from three businesses along the route.
- Cincy Wine Wagon – The Cincy Wine Wagon makes stops at two local wineries and one wine bar for tastings and more.
- Northern Kentucky Back Roads Wine Trail – The Back Roads Wine Trail leads to five wineries south of Cincinnati, across the river in Kentucky. The stops include award-winning wines from the Atwood Hill Winery, Baker-Bird Winery, Camp Springs Vineyard, Seven Wells Vineyard & Winery and StoneBrook Winery.
- Wine and Dine in Over the Rhine Tour – The tour is a stroll throughout the Over the Rhine neighborhood with small plates at three restaurants and two glasses of wine with dessert.
Cincinnati Wine Events
- Cincinnati International Wine Festival – This celebration of wine began in 1991, to benefit local charities. It has grown from a festival to feature competitions, tastings, education sessions, a charity auction and more.
- Vinoklet Art & Wine Festival – This festival, hosted by the Vinoklet Winery, features wine tasting, food booths, concerts and family fun.
- Wild About Wine – This event at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden features wine and food to benefit the zoo.
Find Your Home in the Ohio River Valley
Wine is only one of the things to explore about life in the Ohio River Valley. You can enjoy your senior years at The Seasons in Cincinnati by being as active as you wish to live, while we take care of the necessities of daily living.
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