Carillon Brewing’s first Catawba wine is unlike most you have tried

Last fall, the historic Carillon Brewing Company delighted Dayton wine-lovers when it corked its first bottles.

This week, they finally got to release the wine they intended on making the first time around.

“Carillon Catawba” hit the brewery’s shelves this morning after more than a year of effort to find the right grapes. Carillon Brewing — Dayton’s only licensed, working winery — released a Concord wine last July. It’s a semi-sweet wine made with aromatic Concord grapes from the rich Ohio Valley.

Catawba, an American grape variety, is more difficult to come by in the region, said Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History. Set on making a wine more similar to what was made when the Miami Valley was the epicenter for wine-making during the late 19th century, the brewery was on top of its search for Catawba grapes. Carillon found its match and was on a list for Catawba grapes early last fall.

“We were doing a Concord last year. We wanted a Catawba grape but we were too late,” Kress said. “Last October, we drove over and found Catawba growing in southern Indiana along the Ohio River.”

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

The finished product smells fruity, but is far less sweet than most Catawba wines found in stores today. Carillon’s loyalty to tradition is the reason for the distinct taste of this batch.

“We’re real excited about it,” Kress said. “The other thing that’s different is someone might try a Catawba but think it’s really sweet and heavy and it’s because most Catawba done today are fermented and stored in stainless steel. The fermentation process is actually stopped early to preserve some of the sugars and so you end up with it very sweet.”

Sticking to the brewery’s mission, the winery only ferments and ages in white Oak barrels. The result is a 10% ABV wine — tasting much drier and almost comparable to a Champagne without the carbonation.

Carillon Catawba is now available at the brewery in $10 bottles and by the glass.

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