The Cincinnati Vintner’s Club, a local organization of 25 amateur winemakers dedicated to making fine wines, boasts the most prizes won at Winemaker Magazine’s June 5 ceremony in San Luis Obispo, California, earning them the prestigious “Club of the Year” award.
According to the club’s press release: “In 2022, Cincinnati Vintner Club members won 11 gold, 12 silver, and 13 bronze medals among 1,772 entries as well as recognition as Best in Show in one category. One of these medals was for a wine produced from grapes at Clermont County’s own Harmony Hill vineyard.”
The club’s competition came from all over North America — and from as far as Sweden — and they were judged in 50 different categories, 36 of which the Cincinnati club won medals in.
“I hoped, but frankly never expected us to win. We have incredibly talented amateur winemakers and often ranked in the top tier, but the smaller size of our club translated to limiting the number of medals; like a ceiling we couldn't break through,” says John Russell, the club’s vice president. “All that came together this year and winning 36 medals in 50 categories pushed us into the number one position. A very pleasant surprise!”
The club keeps a maximum of 25 members, who source grapes from Washington, California and Ohio. With these grapes, Russell says, they challenge themselves to come up with the best wines possible, with a healthy dose of internal competition to keep everyone sharp.
“[We have] a shared passion for winemaking and an enduring focus on learning, exploring, and improving,” Russell says. “We have a great mix of vintners with eclectic tastes; from dry red Bordeauxs to sweet fruit wines, they run the gamut. Our internal club competitions are designed to 'mix it up,' to make wines outside one's comfort zone and this gives the club both range and depth of talent. For example, I prefer to make dry red wines, but I made my first-ever rosé for a recent club competition and just won first place with that same wine at the 2022 Hamilton County Fair. I think the club's approach promotes a healthy balance of exploration and expertise; and of sharing and competition.”
Winemaker Magazine went into print in 1999 and details tips on how to make wine at home for the modern hobbyist, with equipment recommendations, recipes and more on the subject. The magazine prints bi-monthly and hosts the aforementioned competition annually.
The Cincinnati Vintner’s Club was formed in 1980 and does not currently have an online presence, but if you’d like to learn more, email club vice president John Russell at [email protected].