Ohio wineries are big business

by MaryAnne Pysson

Trisha Cramer’s best vacation was a trip to the Finger Lakes wine region in New York.

The Akron, Ohio, resident and a friend visited the region five years ago and had their choice of 200 wineries to visit.

“There were so many places to visit, we couldn’t hardly visit them all and still be able to drive,” Cramer said.

When she came home, she was hooked on visiting wineries. Luckily, she didn’t have to travel far to visit wine country.

Ohio wineries have become booming businesses, attracting visitors from near and far. Northeast Ohio alone includes more than 20 wineries. This region produces 60 percent of all the wine made in the state, according to the Ohio Wine Association Web site, www.ohiowines.org.

In fact, Ohio is one of the top 10 producers of wine in the country. The state produces 1.1 million gallons each year, according to the website.

Wine consumption is on the rise across the U.S. Overall consumption of wine per U.S. resident has increased from .26 gallons in 1934 to 2.73 gallons in 2012, according to the Wine Institute.

In a separate study by Euromonitor, a global market analysis company, wine consumption grew 13 percent in the U.S. from 2006 to 2012. During the same time beer consumption decreased by 3 percent.

Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard in Rootstown, Ohio, has been a part of this boom. The vineyard, a former family farm, began growing grapes in 2006 and opened to the public two years ago, said Karl Hoisington, a jack of all trades at the winery.

“I don’t have one (a title) as far as I know. I manage the vines and help with almost everything else,” Hoisington said.

Wines created at this vineyard are sold throughout the state from Akron to Kent to Warren and North Canton. They are also available for customers at Farm Girls Pub & Grub in Alliance, Ohio.

While out-of-towners may be surprised by the number of wineries in Ohio, people from here are not. Native Ohioan Sara Eisenbaum grew up in Mentor, and said she went to wineries “tons” while she was growing up.

Her family often visited the Ferrante Winery in Geneva because her mother was the owner’s accountant. She said she has fond memories of eating Italian food and hanging out with the family’s seven children while her mom and the other adults enjoyed the local wine.

“My mom frequents them (wineries),” Eisenbaum said.  “And I grew up in one practically.”