Historic Engels and Krudwig Winery

The history of Ohio winemakeing can be traced back to the early 1800's. Nicholas Longworth, a lawyer from the Cinncinnati area, saw the potential of the Ohio River Valley to become a major producer of wine. In 1820, he planted the first Catawba grapes. This domestic variety was hearty enough to withstand Ohio winters and the wine produced from it quickly won consumer acceptance. The light, semi-sweet wine was different from the other strong American wines of the day. Soon there were many acres of vines growing in the greater Cinncinnati area.and by 1845, the annual production was over 300,000 gallons. By 1860, Ohio led the nation in the production of wine. As crop diseases, such as black rot and mildew, began to plague the grapes, the Civil War left the grape growers with little manpower.

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As the southern vineyards wilted, a new Ohio growing area emerged in the Lake Erie Islands. The Islands had a unique climate; the waters surrounding them provided a long growing season and insulated the vines from spreading disease. The Islands were settled by German immigrants who brought the traditions of winemaking with them. By the turn of the century, thousands of gallons of wine were being produced by dozens of wineries on and near the islands. Vineyards were soon planted along the entire southern shore of Lake Erie. This narrow strip of shoreline soon became nicknamed the "Lake Erie Grape Belt"

The Historic Engels and Krudwig Winery

The Engels and Krudwig Winery was open from 1863 to 1959. It is now reopened and is currently operating as E&K Winery.

The Beginning of E&K coincides with the genesis of the grape industry on Lake Erie's southern shore. During the 1850's Jacob Engels began a wine importation business. He planted a 10 acre plot of grapes to the east of the city in 1860 and began erection of the winery building in 1863. By 1878, Mr. R.P. Krudwig joined the Engels family in the flourishing business, and together they became the leaders in the burgeoning industry.

By the turn of the century E&K Wines were famous across the eastern United States. E&K native wines were being toasted as far east as New York City and as far west as Texas.

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The Engels and Krudwig families expanded their lines to include spakling wines and vermouth, and with the erection of the distillation equipment, went into grape and fruit brandy production. With prohibition threatening ruination of the business, The Engels and Krudwig families kept alive their tradition by the production of sacramental wines, de-alcoholized wines, and fresh grape juice.

In 1934-1935, with prohibition behind them, E&K began it's final major expansion. With the addition of 18,000 square feet, E&K became one of the largest wineries east of the Mississippi River. Total storage capacity, consisting entirely of white oak casks and cypress vats, was 868,000 gallons.

In 1959, after nearly 100 years of operation, E&K Winery ceased production. Beset with internal problems and general lack of interest, E&K closed it's doors.

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