The long and frigid cold left Ohioans yearning for sunshine, blue skies and rising temperatures. As we move into spring, many hibernators will head outside and celebrate the blossoming flowers and chirping birds with a Dionysian beverage.
At Hanover Winery in Hamilton, Butler County’s first and only farm winery, relaxation seekers can enjoy a glass—or bottle—of wine in a natural and rustic environment.
“We just have a quaint atmosphere where people can get out in the country and enjoy themselves,” says Eddie McDonald, who co-owns Hanover along with his wife, Beth.
Situated between Hamilton and Oxford and surrounded by rolling farmlands, Hanover has become a favorite destination for suburbanites and city dwellers seeking a day’s retreat.
“We get people from all over the Tristate that come here,” says Beth. “We’re close enough so people don’t have to worry about the drive, but far enough for a getaway.”
The McDonald’s home shares the same property as their winery and tasting room. With picnic tables that wrap around their pond and live music, it’s the perfect location to enjoy a glass of wine and soak in a picturesque sunset.
While Beth maintains her role as the taste connoisseur, Eddie’s responsibility lies with growing and fermenting the best quality grapes for their 20-plus selections. After several years of researching fermentation, learning the business and getting feedback on homemade bottles from family and friends, the couple finally opened their operation in 2009.
“We really pride ourselves on being a place where anyone can come and enjoy themselves and enjoy some quality wine,” says Beth. “We want to help people navigate the wine experience.”
Among customers’ favorites are the Black Dahlia, a smooth dry blackberry merlot, and the Ohio Apple, a sweet mix of seven apple varieties and a silver medal award winner.
While some may see southwest Ohio wine lagging behind places like Napa Valley, Calif., Eddie is quick to point out where American wine production started.
“This is the true wine country,” he says. “How do you think Vine Street got its name?”
The birth of wine production in the U.S. began when Nicholas Longworth, an American winemaking pioneer, began planting Ohio-native Catawba grapes throughout Cincinnati in the early 1800s. Longworth, who was dubbed the “father of American winemaking,” believed the hills along the Ohio River offered a perfect location to grow the grapes. His intuition served him well and Cincinnati became known in California and Europe for its sparkling wines. However, the Cincinnati wine industry took a hit during the Civil War and Ohio wine production moved north to Lake Erie.
Fortunately for Tristate wine-lovers, small wineries like Hanover—and several other wineries along the Ohio River Valley wine trail from Dayton to Adams County—have used advances in technology and grapes to keep Longworth’s tradition alive and prosperous throughout the area.
“There’s a lot of great wine being made in Ohio right now,” says Eddie. “You don’t have to go far to enjoy a great glass of wine.”
Hanover Winery, 2121 Morman Rd, Hamilton. Hours of operation: May-Oct: Thu 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Nov-April: Thu 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Fri-Sat 2 p.m.-9 p.m.