Saturday, June 18, 2011

History of Lake Erie Wineries Told in New Book

Just in time help you celebrate Ohio Wine Month is a new book from area author Claudia J. Taller titled Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries. The book includes more than 200 vintage images, giving readers a unique opportunity to reconnect to the history that shaped their community.
The book will be released on Monday, June 20.

Ohio’s Lake Erie wineries and vineyards are rooted in tradition. European immigrants settled on the Lake Erie islands and nearby shoreline in the mid-1800s, and the grape industry flourished in Ohio into the early 20th century. Industrialization from Cleveland to Toledo swallowed up prime growing property along the lakeshore but many farms continued to grow grapes.

During Prohibition, wine making went underground. When it ended, restaurant owners bottled their own fortified wines and some of the wineries started mass producing wine with new equipment. The wines of Ohio, like those all over the eastern United States, were mostly sweet and made from native labrusca grapes.

In the 1960s, Ohio’s serious winemakers learned how to cultivate European-style vinifera grapes along Lake Erie’s shore and on the islands. Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon grapes now grow alongside Concord and Catawba. Today, more than 40 wineries stretch across northern Ohio.

Claudia J. Taller is a Cleveland-area freelance writer who has been enjoying wine country adventures in Ohio over the last 10 years. She writes travel, history and lifestyle articles for local and national publications. A lifelong writer, she is a graduate of Kent State University’s English department and leads writing groups and retreats.

She lives within five miles of Lake Erie. When she discovered the long history of Ohio’s Lake Erie wineries and the high number of existing wineries along Lake Erie’s shore, she became interested in knowing more. In her visits to wineries she discovered the art of growing grapes, the craft of making wine, and the passion with which the growers and winemakers produce a product that competes with wines in California.

Taller spent hours in historical societies and wineries to compile this book about Ohio’s Lake Erie wineries. She was inspired by the passionate work of growing grapes and making wine and was intrigued to know Ohio was once the premier wine-producing state. The book is a celebration of the comeback of the Lake Erie wine industry and those who toil to make that happen.

The trend is toward more wineries in Ohio. It is Taller’s hope that Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries will enlighten people about Ohio’s rich history as a winemaking state, and that people will embrace local Lake Erie wineries, winemakers, and wines.

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at The 128-page book is part of the Images of America series and retails for $21.99.

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