There’s some sad news in the Cincinnati wine scene this week. Paul Ortiz, founder of the Cincinnati Wine School and former wine director at Boca, passed away Monday at the age of 44.
Born and raised in Santa Fe, Paul settled in Cincinnati while attending UC in the mid ’80s. His first wine-related job was at Petersen’s in Mt. Adams, as a bartender. He was largely self-taught in wine, which I find inspiring. In the end he was running the Wine School and working for Vintner Select. Paul was known for his unpretentious, no-nonsense style that made wine approachable.
I only met Paul once, at the International Wine Festival shortly after he launched the Wine School. He struck me as a sweet and easygoing man. Since I began recording the Cincinnati area wine events in January, I noticed his name more and more often. Not only did his name appear for Wine School-related events, Paul was associated with any possible wine event that helped promote downtown and downtown living. Whether it was Second Sunday on Main or Art & Wine strolls at the Art Museum, Paul was involved.
There are few people in the Cincinnati food and wine industry who haven’t had some contact with Paul, even if just in passing. He was a great force in Cincinnati, not only for educating people about wine, but for promoting his adopted city. He will be missed.
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