The weather in Cincinnati was 75º on Sunday without a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect kick-off to spring and a perfect debut weekend for the Cincinnati Fine Food Show, the event-within-an-event of the Cincinnati Flower Show. We should have been at home, doing yard work and other welcome-to-spring house activities, but instead, we visited the show.It was a great first effort for the Fine Food Show, and I’m glad they’re looking at this as an annual part of the Flower event.
The first thing we did was to purchase our tasting tickets and take in the wineries. We tried wines from each winery, including Kinkead Ridge, Valley Vineyards, Harmony Hill, Henke, and Ravenhurst.
Kinkead Ridge: It was great to finally meet Nancy face to face. She’s such a sweetheart! We really enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon (award winning!). It was all she had left. They were running out of wine and I think that’s just fantastic. We look forward to visiting their winery this summer, and hopefully a barrel tasting in the fall. Nancy also gave a us Kinkead Ridge shopping bag at the end of our day. She commented that she knew she had really made it when she got her own shopping bags. Cheers to that!
Valley Vineyards: We tried the Vidal Blanc icewine. I think I’m spoiled by the icewine in the Niagara Peninsula, because this just tasted too, um, grapey for me. Overall, I’m not really a fan of Vidal Blanc, I suppose. We didn’t try any other Valley Vineyards wines, and perhaps we should have.
Harmony Hill: We had a great conversation with both Bob and Patti at Harmony Hill. (They’ve built an honest-to-goodness wine cave!) It was a surprise to find out that they’re both nurses by trade, and the winery is a gigantic endeavor on the side. All of their wines have a musical theme – Woodwind (Seval Blanc), Serenade (Chambourcin & Marechal Foch), Concerto (Vidal Blanc), Ovation (Traminette, Cayuga), and the Chamber Suite (a sweeter Chambourcin). We purchased a bottle of the Ovation, which is just tropical enough to be a great front porch wine. Once we try it outside of the tasting area, we might just buy a case to represent our "summer white." Like Kinkead Ridge, Harmony Hill opens on weekends in the summer starting Memorial Day. It sounds like they always have some live music going on too.
Henke Winery: We tried the flight of wines offered at Henke and were pleasantly surprised by the Chardonnay. In fact, it was our favorite. Thanks to the Henke folks for talking us into trying it. We also really enjoyed their Vendange a Trois, a blend of 85% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc, and 5% merlot. Henke Winery isn’t even that far from us, so we’ll have to pay them a visit soon. (You’ll find them quite frequently throughout our weekly Events listings.)
Ravenhurst Champagne Cellars: Ravenhurst did not blow us away. We tried both the Cuvee and the Rose sparklers. We preferred the Cuvee of the two. The booth was staffed by two Horticultural Society members who weren’t overly familiar with the wines, and didn’t seemed overly thrilled to be there.
Obviously, our favorites were Henke, Harmony Hill, and Kinkead Ridge. At all three places we had great conversations with the people who actually make the wine. I also find that when you meet the winemakers and the folks who really have passion for their craft, it adds something extra special to the wine.
After the jump, read some of our comments on the food portions of the show and on our suggestions for making the sophomore Fine Food Show even better.
There are simply too many food booths to mention them all, but I want to draw special attention to a couple of them.
Everything at the Fine Food Show was local or boutique, and that’s what made it neat. From the wine to the snacks, these foods aren’t all carried at your local grocer (but they’re working on it). I was thrilled to pick up several different cards and brochures. If I can’t order some of these things online, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for them.
Some items the Fine Food Show might want to improve upon for next year:
Overall, we enjoyed the first Cincinnati Fine Food Show. I really like that it showcased local foods and more importantly, local wineries. It was a great way to meet several local winemakers and try the local wines. It was definitely enough for us to sit down with an Ohio wine map and plot out a little weekend trek to several of the wineries. For more information on Ohio wineries, you can visit Ohio Grape Industries.
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