You might not think of Ohio when you think of wine, but wineries in the state have become much more popular in recent years.

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Sometimes you just need a getaway, far from traffic and free of crowds. These days, the chic escape is to wine country, where fields extend forever, skies are big, and wine tasting excursions await your romantic weekend, girlfriend getaway, or even your wedding or family reunion.

Wineries around the country are enjoying an increase in popularity as travelers seek unique vacation experiences. But you don't have to travel to California valleys for a vintner-themed vacation. Consider Ohio, for example, with its 148 wineries, producing more than 1 million gallons (3.8 million liters) of wine a year. In fact, the number of licensed Ohio wineries has doubled in the past five years [source: Cuffman].

Ohio's history of winemaking goes back nearly as long as it's been a state. Most credit a Cincinnati lawyer named Nicholas Longworth for realizing the wine production potential of the Ohio River Valley. Longworth planted the first grapes, the domestic Catawbas, around 1820. Catawbas, red grapes, were able to withstand the freezing cold winters. The wines themselves became quite popular, and by 1860, Ohio was actually the nation's top wine producer. Then, crop diseases, the Civil War and eventually Prohibition took their toll, and the state's wineries withered.

Ohio wineries began to flourish once again in the 1960s, and the region has grown substantially in both the number of wineries and in popularity as a vacation destination. The Ohio wine country has also grown in terms of the reputation of its wines. The state government supported an initiative in the 1990s to boost the quality of Ohio wines, establishing tax credits, vineyard planting grants and a newly appointed state viticulturist who proved highly successful in raising the quality of region's wines. Today, Ohio ranks among the top 10 United States wine regions and wineries that produce national award-winning wines. Wines coming out of Ohio include riesling, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris, pinot grigio, pinot noir and more.

With the great successes of Ohio wineries, many of them share the celebration with the public, with plenty of wine tours and wine trails to lead you there.