With so many seniors finally getting a chance to unwind after retirement, it’s no surprise that vineyards, wine shops and tasting rooms have become increasingly popular around the nation — in urban, suburban and rural areas.
Greater Cincinnati is no exception to the trend. In this post, we’ll explore several of the best destinations for indulging and improving your palate.
The Wine Merchant
The Wine Merchant, located at 3972 Edwards Road in Hyde Park, has a trademark motto: “Taste Before You Buy.” As a former restaurateur, founder Rosemary Hoeffler Van Kirk strongly believed that food and wine are inextricably linked. She made it her mission to provide a buying and educational experience for her customers. For over 30 years, she and her team of esperti di vini have been guiding Cincinnati wine buyers in making the right purchases— and the right pairings.
The Wine Merchant stocks more than a thousand wines and is particularly known for its selection of Bordeaux and Southern French wines. The store has a Daily Tasting Bar that features wines the staff has written about in its monthly newsletter. On weekdays, eight bottles are open and available to taste; weekends, when store traffic is heavier, up to twenty wines may be available.
Additionally, The Wine Merchant’s Ultimate WineStation is a high-tech wine storage and preservation device that allows up to eight premium wines to be preserved and dispensed at ideal serving temperature for up to 60 days. Every Wednesday, from 4 to 7 pm, pours from the Ultimate WineStation are half-price— a great way to sample high-end vintages without breaking your budget!
Nestled in Cincinnati’s Gaslight District is a mom-and-pop shop that specializes in diverse offerings. At any given time, Ludlow Wines has some 300 fine wines to choose from as well as a generous selection of craft beer. The store, at 343 Ludlow Ave, is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-8 pm.
Ludlow Wines offers patrons a 10% discount on mix-and-match wine cases and the opportunity to “build your own six-pack” of craft beer. It also features a “Wine Club.” For $25 in monthly dues, members receive “a specially-selected, limited, hard-to-find and exceptional wine to enjoy” along with food pairings, tasting notes and detailed information about the producing winery.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, Ludlow Wines hosts a wine and beer tasting event where customers have the opportunity to taste four wines or beers for just $6.
1215 Wine & Coffee Lab
For a late afternoon respite or an after-dinner nightcap, 1215 Wine & Coffee Lab on Vine Street in the revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood may be just the ticket. Equally dedicated to the fruit of the tree and the fruit of the vine, 1215 was founded by Joanna Argus, an accredited sommelier, and Bob Bonder, owner of the local Tazza Mia coffeehouse chain.
1215’s concept is simple: marry a stop-in java joint serving up the freshest microroast coffees, including fancy pour-over brews and espresso-based concoctions, with an elegant winetasting bar. It offers wine flights, with customized food pairings, in addition to cheese plates, antipasti and other tasty delights.
The venue can become crowded on the weekends and in the late evening, but in the daytime and early evening, it’s a wonderful, relaxing spot for a sip and a conversation.
If going right to the source is your way, you may want to check out Valley Vineyards in Morrow, Ohio— just a few scenic minutes east of Kings Island— which has been a destination for Tristate wine connoisseurs since 1970. The winery sits in the Miami River valley, where the fertile soil and temperate weather are just right for producing quality vintages.
Tours of the winery cellar are available, as are tastings and winemaking discussions hosted by its staff. Tasting admissions are $10 per person for a selection of six Valley Vineyard wines, which also includes palate cleansing cheeses and a tour of the winery. Valley Vineyards also produces a craft beer line, Cellar Dweller.
The tasting room is open every day, and if you’re feeling hungry, pizza and fresh-baked pretzels are on the menu in the dining room. The vineyard also hosts Weekend Cookouts year-round on Fridays and Saturdays, and additionally on Sundays during the warm-weather months. Reservations for the Weekend Cookouts are required; for the seating price, attendees receive a steak or salmon entrée, a full-course dinner and a bottle of wine.
Summer retirement living in Cincinnati is free and easy with the right vintage and some company. Whether it’s wine tastings or a trip out to the cellars, seniors in the Tristate find the offerings want for a relaxing lifestyle.