BOOK REVIEW: Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries by Claudia J. Taller

BOOK REVIEW: Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries
Written by Claudia J. Taller

Reviewed by Mansfield Frazier

Rare is the book that beckons — nay, compels — you to pour yourself a glass of the fruit of the vine after the first few pages, but Claudia Taller’s new book, Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries, does just that, and more… lots more. Wine lovers and teetotalers alike will find this compendium of the past and present of northern Ohio grape growing and winemaking — from the Lake Erie Islands to Ashtabula County — utterly fascinating.

Written in a style as crisp and clear as an alluring glass of Chalet Debonne Vineyards ice wine, this abundantly illustrated slim volume covers much ground… indeed, from the first European settlers who planted vineyards on Kelly’s Island in the mid-1800s to the new wineries that are currently blossoming like beautiful vines along the Erie shores.

Taller, a Cleveland-based freelancer who writes travel, history and lifestyle articles for Cool Cleveland and numerous local and national publications (she also leads writing groups and retreats), has been enjoying Ohio wine country adventures for over 10 years, so this book is a natural for her. She’s simply following one of the first dictums of the journalistic profession: Write about what you know.

And the timing of her book could not be more perfect: The renewed and vigorous growth of the local viticulture industry is actually a “back to the future” story, for indeed, Ohio was once the largest grape growing state in the nation, and right before Prohibition it still was third in the nation in wine production. And Taller tells a fascinating tale about the heritage, traditions, families and fortunes that are so integral to what once was a grand lifestyle for so many individuals, and is on the cusp of becoming so once again.

The aforementioned photographs — gleaned from an extensive number of sources — evoke a real sense of history, and, along with the precisely written text, they provide the reader with all of the vital information needed to be thought of as a real expert at that next dinner party or wine tasting outing.

In addition to being a great addition to any wine lover’s library, this neat little volume makes a great gift for the novice and experienced imbiber of what some refer to as the “nectar of the gods.”

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From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available again in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author by visiting

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