SW Ohio winery captures ‘Best of Show’ in wine competition

The Meranda-Nixon Winery near Ripley southeast of Cincinnati captured the top "Best of Show" award at the 2016 Ohio Wine Competition.

The winning wine was the 2013 Meranda-Nixon Cabernet Franc Reserve, and 100 percent of the grapes used to produce the wine were grown in the winery’s vineyards, located near the Ohio River outside Ripley.

This is the first time the winery has captured a top award at the Ohio Wine Competition, the judging for which was held earlier this week, May 17-18, at Kent State University’s Ashtabula campus in northeast of Cleveland.

“We’re honored and humbled,” winery co-owner Maura Meranda said this morning, May 20.

Meranda said the award represents affirmation for the efforts of her husband and winemaker, Seth Meranda, and their family members who work at the winery. Seth Meranda co-founded the winery with his late wife Tina Meranda-Nixon, who died in 2012. The 11.5 acres of vineyards are on land where Seth Meranda’s great-grandfather lived and grew tobacco and grains.

“This says something for what we’re doing down here, and it shows that the Ohio River Valley is producing some high-quality, Napa-like wines,” Maura Meranda said.

The winery hadn’t made a “reserve” bottling of their cabernet franc since 2007. But the growing conditions in 2013 were favorable, especially in August and September, and the resulting wine warranted a “reserve” status, Meranda said.

The wine is currently available only at the Meranda-Nixon tasting room at 6517 Laycock Road in Ripley, but it is expected to reach retail store shelves in the coming months, Meranda said. The bottle price is $24.99.

Maura Meranda poured samples of her winery’s estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton red wines at the Fleurs de Fete at Carillon Park, held last Sunday, May 15 in Dayton.

Ferrante Winery, in Ashtabula County northeast of Cleveland, was recognized for best dessert wine for its 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice wine and for best rosé for its Rosato; Maize Valley Winery, in Hartville between Akron and Canton, also captured two awards, the best white for its "Mad Cow" bottling of Niagara, and best sparkling wine for its "White Wedding" bottling of sparkling Niagara.

The "best fruit wine" designation was won by Doughty Glen Winery in Millersburg southwest of Canton for its raspberry wine, and Cheateu Tebeau Vineyard & Winery in Helena between Bowling Green and Fremont in northwest Ohio won best red wine for its Petite Sirah. That wine was elevated to "best red" after the Meranda-Nixon Cabernet Franc captured the overall "Best of Show" designation.

Note: The author of this story, Mark Fisher, served as a judge at the 2016 Ohio Wine Competition. All wines at the competition are evaluated “blind,” with judges not knowing the identities or producers of each sample. The competition attracted 252 entries this year, and is open to wines made from grapes grown outside Ohio as well as to wines made from fruit grown in Ohio vineyards.

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