I’ve long maintained that winemakers in the Ohio Valley – from the eastern stretches of Kentucky to the Mississippi River – should look to the Loire in France as a model for winemaking. Here’s why.
Both rivers run along the boundary between a glacial plain and an uplifted limestone region, with outcroppings of harder igneous and metamorphic rock scattered throughout.
Both regions are continental in climate, with some maritime/lake influence. Thus they both have summers that are hot and humid, winters that are cold and wet, and concerns about frost in the spring.
Given that, it’s no surprise that the best vitis vinifera red in the Ohio Valley is Cabernet Franc. Brown County, Ohio has 3 award-winning Cabernet Franc producers (Meranda-Nixon, Kinkead Ridge, and La Vigna). Huber Winery in southeastern Indiana provided the initial plantings for Cab Franc growers in Lodi, and still provides library wines to them today.
So my challenge to the wineries in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois: show me what you can do with Chenin Blanc!