Great wine regions around the world are typically renowned for a single [or perhaps two] famous grapes or for their strictly controlled blends: Napa, California: Cabernet, Bordeaux district in France: great reds; Australia: Syrah; Argentina: Melbec; Champagne district in France: sparkling whites; Washington State: Rieslings and great reds, Long Island, New York: Merlot, Finger Lakes, New York and Traverse City, Michigan: Riesling, Austria: Greuner Veltliner, Oregon: Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Why is that significant for the Tri County area of northeast Ohio?

The answer: Take a minute and Google “Pinot Belt Map.”

The amazing fact is that there are two narrow strips of geography which provide in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, general climactic conditions to grow great Pinots. In the northern hemisphere, Burgundy, parts of Italy, Slovenia, part of northern California and Oregon are prominent in the illustration ….. but additionally, so is the south shore of Lake Erie including the Tri County region of Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties.

Many of the wineries in the region are producing award winning Pinots [along with a myriad of other fine wines] and while they will continue to produce and promote lots of other wines, they hope to make these grapes the “signature” varieties in the Tri-County region. 

Thus fourteen wineries in the area have formed a partnership, led by the Tri County Grape Growers Association to promote the great Pinots [Gris and Noir] that now growing there.  Their goals are several:  share with the wine world that they are doing some exceptional Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines, encourage more plantings of these varieties and drive consumers out to their doors to explore and enjoy all that they have to offer.

They have created a brochure sharing information about Pinots which features a lovely, but somewhat mysterious lady on the cover [reflecting Pinots’ reputation as the “Femme Fatale of Wines” ]. And beginning June 1 through July 15 will host a Pinot Trail special event where by consumers can visit any or all of the 13 including Debonné, Ferrante, Grand River, Harpersfield, Kosicek, LaLeure, Laurello, Laurentia, M, Maple Ridge, Markko, St. Joseph, and South River [the 14th is Silver Crest which will not be open for the trail event, but will be welcoming guests sometime in the fall].

Cost for the special trail event will be $15 per person and will entitle visitors to sample a Pinot complemented by an appetizer at each of the wineries any time during the six weeks. Following the conclusion of the trail, for those who visit all 13 currently open, prizes including crystal wine glasses, Vintage Ohio Wine Festival tickets and wine cork cages will be awarded via a drawing from all those Pinot lovers who visit those participating wineries.  

And ONE lucky couple will win an overnight stay in the PINOT GRIS SUITE at the spectacular, new Vineyard Woods resort in the heart of the Grand River Valley.   Visit VineyardWoods.com  to learn about this amazing new lodging facility with 25 wineries just a short drive, bicycle ride or walk away.    

Participation cards will be available at each winery beginning May 18 or can be ordered through the Ohio Wine Producers [who is assisting with logistics] web site: www.OhioWines.org, or at their offices at 1 South Broadway, Geneva…all beginning May 18th.

In addition to the special trail event, new brochures touting the story of the Pinots grown in the region and upcoming events will be widely distributed around the Tri County area throughout the year.