As several different states look for ways to encourage local patronage of their wineries, one of the most exciting ideas springing up has been the passport system. These vary from state to state, but generally offer discounts and other benefits to people who visit local wineries. Ohio will soon be implementing its own version of this system called the Visitor’s Incentive Program (VIP).
The Ohio Wines VIP program will launch on June 1st, which is also the kickoff to Ohio Wine Month. The program is free and the process is simple, and should encourage lots of visitors to venture to the fantastic wineries that dot the state. Many people may not know that before Napa Valley became the primary source for American wines, Ohio was considered one of the most important wine producers in the country. Getting involved in the VIP program is a great way to experience the broad variety of wines produced in this historic state.
Starting on June 1st, wine lovers will have the opportunity to sign up for this program by visiting https://www.ohiowinesvip.com/ (the site won’t be active until June 1). There, they’ll be able to view a list of participating wineries, register, and receive a free gift. When visiting participating wineries, participants will be given a ticket that represents a certain number of points. These points can be accumulated over the course of the year, and redeemed at the website for gifts, discounts, and other benefits.
It seems that these days every state in the US is trying to market itself as ‘the new wine country,’ and it’s pretty easy to understand why. Over the last few decades the popularity of wine has exploded, and it seems to have found its place in every demographic and every region in the country. High-quality, affordable wines have squeezed their way onto grocery store shelves, meaning that winos no longer have to seek out the tiny, expensive, boutiques that used to have the wine market cornered.
Vineyards and wineries have popped up everywhere from New Jersey to New Mexico, and they’re producing some of the most delicious vintages on the market. Unfortunately, we sometimes take for granted that the best must be somewhere else, and these local gems are often overlooked by their neighbors. As a resident of Idaho, I can attest to the shock that rippled through our area when Sawtooth Winery’s 2011 bottle won Best Riesling in the country in Wine and Spirits Magazine. It wasn’t that locals didn’t enjoy Sawtooth’s fine wines; it was simply that they couldn’t imagine that they lived so close to one of the best wineries in the country.
These VIP and passport programs are excellent resources, both for out-of-state tourists and local aficionados. Taking advantage of their participating wineries lists can help you to discover new locations and rediscover forgotten favorites. Hopefully, this program will draw praise and crowds to the fine wine producers in the state of Ohio. It is, after all, one of the top ten wine producers in the United States.
This is a guest post from Kayla Stevens. Kayla is a freelance writer and professional wine drinker. She loves food, travel, and friends, and any other excuse to open a nice bottle. She currently writes for Midwest Supplies, which provides the equipment required for home wine making.
creative commons photo credit: r c photographic