Ohio River Valley AVA

Ohio River Valley AVA
Ohio River Valley AVA (wine region)
Type American Viticultural Area
Year established 1983, amended in 1987[1]
Country USA
Part of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia
Sub-regions Kanawha River Valley AVA
Total area 16,640,000 acres (67,340 km2)[2]
Grapes produced Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Catawba, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Concord, De Chaunac, Marechal Foch, Melon, Merlot, Niagara, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Reliance, Riesling, Rougeon, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Seyval Blanc, Steuben, Syrah, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Viognier[3]
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The Ohio River Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area centered around the Ohio River and surrounding areas. It is the second largest wine appellation of origin in the United States (only the Upper Mississippi Valley is larger) with 16,640,000 acres (67,300 km2) in portions of the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. The area is mostly planted with hybrid grapes like Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and Vidal. Of the Vitis vinifera found in the area Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Riesling are the most commonly found.[3]



The Ohio River Valley AVA is the birthplace of American viticulture. Wine has been produced in Ohio since 1823 when Nicholas Longworth planted the first Alexander and Isabella grapes in the Ohio River Valley. In 1825, Longworth planted the first Catawba grapes in Ohio. Others soon planted Catawba in new vineyards throughout the state and by 1860, Catawba was the most important grape variety in Ohio. At this time, Ohio produced more wine than any other state in the country, and Cincinnati was the most important city in the national wine trade. Of the 570,000 gallons of wine that were produced each year in Ohio, 200,000 came from Brown county.[4]

In the 1800s, wire was expensive, so non-trellised vines succumbed to fungal diseases. Horses could farm the narrow ridges, but tractors could not. Tobacco farming became profitable. And as in many other states, Prohibition in the United States destroyed the Ohio wine industry, which has struggled to recover.[3]


The Ohio River is a climatic transition area as its water runs along the periphery of the humid subtropical climate and humid continental climate thereby being inhabited by fauna and flora of both climates. In his Notes on the State of Virginia published in 1781-82, Thomas Jefferson stated: "The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted."


The Ohio River is young from a geologic standpoint. The river formed on a piecemeal basis beginning between 2.5 and 3 million years ago. The earliest Ice Ages occurred at this time and dammed portions of north flowing rivers. The Teays River was the largest of these rivers, and the modern Ohio River flows within segments of the ancient Teays. The ancient rivers were rearranged or consumed by glaciers and lakes.

The soils of the Ohio River Valley are diverse, being on the boundary between glaciated and non-glaciated.


The Ohio River Valley AVA is home to many well-regarded vineyards, including Harmony Hill, Meranda-Nixon, Kinkead Ridge, Thomas Family Winery, La Vigna Estate Winery, and many more.


  1. ^ Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.78 Ohio River Valley." Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2008.
  2. ^ Wine Institute (2008). "American Viticultural Areas by State". Retrieved Jan. 22, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Appellation America (2007). "Ohio River Valley (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Jan. 22, 2008.
  4. ^ City Beat (2009)."Bottle Shock in Ripley". Retrieved Aug. 4, 2009.

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