Advocating for under-appreciated wine regions in the Eastern United States
The Virginia Grape
904 Hamburg St, Ripley, OH 45167
Open to Public
Nancy Bently and Ron Barett opened Kinkead Ridge Winery in 2000 producing estate wines from grapes grown on the steep banks overlooking the river just above Ripley. They had experience gained in Oregon, so they were not new to the industry and understood the risks.
Anna Marie poured several of the Kinkead Ridge offerings, so I might get a good sense of they types of wines they produce. Among the whites, I tasted their Grüner Veltliner, Catawba and Traminette. I can say that they were uniformly well made and all were perfectly balanced. Catawba was the primary grape used during the golden era of Ohio wine production. When done well, this American varietal makes very good still and sparkling wine. On the nose there were hints of grape jelly that mingled with floral notes and on the palate it was full of fruit, but it balanced well with a nice bit of acidity in the finish. So I really liked the Catawba, but the Grüner Veltliner made my day. The citrus aromas gave way to some minerality, hints of lime and a nice crisp acidity. The Grüner was by far my favorite of the tasting.
For reds I was interested in Ohio fruit, so I passed on many of the offerings. I did try the Chambourcin and Anna Marie opened a bottle of the last vintage of Petit Verdot. The Chambourcin was well crafted in a dry style from fruit that was perfectly ripened. It was an excellent example.
Kinkead Ridge Winery Profile
Written by Brian Sep 5, 2017
I made my way to Ripley, Ohio from Cincinnati following my GPS as it guided me along a series of scenic byways. The small municipality sits on the north bank of the Ohio River in an area that was once one of the largest wine-producing regions in the United States; but that was before prohibition. Today there are a handful of small, boutique wineries in the area.
The couple planted vinifera and hybrids and were perhaps the only vineyard in the Buckeye State to produce Petit Verdot. The winery soon acquired a reputation for fine wine. Their success, unfortunately, was interrupted by the polar vortex of 2013. That weather event decimated the vineyard and the vines were never replanted. After that disastrous winter, the winery went on the market.
Don Bowers was an amateur winemaker with bigger aspirations. He liked to experiment and was looking for a larger stage. So in 2015, Don and his wife Anna Marie purchased the winemaking operation at Kinkead Ridge and began sourcing fruit from vineyards all over Ohio as well as New York and California. Despite the fact that the Bowers’ residence was much further north, they continued production just a couple blocks from the Ripley’s main thoroughfare.
All Kinkead Ridge production is done in Ripley, Ohio.
Owner(s): Don and Anna Marie Boweres
Winemaker: Don Boweres
About 850 cases of Kinkead Ridge wine are produced annually.
A small stone monument is the only signage.
The Petit Verdot, while not made by the current winemaker, is a very special wine. It saw 18 months in oak and with another 30 months or so in bottle, it was ready to drink. The PV was big and jammy with dark fruit, complexity and a very long finish. It is everything you might hope for in a PV and there are only two cases left. After it is gone, there will probably never be another PV produced from Ohio fruit.
My hat is off to Don and Anna Marie Bowers. They took over a very good winery and continued to make it commercially viable. The wines are of a very high quality and the enthusiasm of the owners will carry Kinkead Ridge Winery well into the 21st century.
If you are going to be in the Ripley area, give them a call. You might also try to attend their barrel tasting event after Thanksgiving. In any case, you should endeavor to try the wine. If you can manage a visit, please let me know what you think.
Anna Marie poured several of the Kinkead Ridge offerings.
Today the couple produces about 850 cases of wine annually. Kinkead Ridge is only open by appointment and for special events, so very little of the wine is sold out of the tasting room. They have opted for a strong restaurant and retail presence at numerous locations throughout the state.
An address on Hamburg Street was the destination plugged into my GPS that morning. The winery is in a one-story residence and I drove past it once before I circled back and noticed a small stone monument that told me I was in the right place. The tasting room does not keep regular hours, so I had called in advance of my visit. As I pulled in to the driveway and parked, Anna Marie Bowers came out to greet me.
Once inside, Anna Marie and I spoke at length about the winery. She filled me in on the back-story and brought me up to date on the current operation.