Vinoklet Winery Review
Address: 11069 Colerain Ave. Cincinnati,Ohio 45252.
Phone Number: 513-385-9309
Tasting Hours: Wed-Thurs 12:00-8:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-11:00, Sun 1:00-7:00
Region: Ohio River Valley AVA, Ohio
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Review Date: 11/28/2014
Reviewer: Brian Yost
I had a single day to visit wineries in Southwestern Ohio, so I had to be selective. I did some research and made a few phone calls. A friend strongly recommended Vinoklet Winery, so I added it to my list and it became the last stop on my regional mini tour. I will admit that my expectations were low, but this turned out to be a great find in a day of eye-opening discoveries.
Kreso Mikulic grew up in a small Croatian village, when that country was still a part of Yugoslavia. Every family made their own wine and the skills were passed down through the generations. Kreso learned the art of winemaking from his father. That was before he left his home for a career in engineering, which would eventually lead him to the Greater Cincinnati area.
Despite his successful career, the siren song of winemaking exerted a strong influence. In 1980, he took his wife Barbara for a drive to look at an abandon dairy farm in the town of Colerain. This, he proclaimed, was the site of his future winery. Barbara was unable to completely understand the scope of what Kreso had in mind, but she was able to appreciate the incredible view offered from the hilltop. The tasting room/restaurant at Vinoklet was built overlooking the Miami River Valley as it nears its confluence with the Ohio River. Its easily one of the most amazing panoramas in the state.
As you approach the tasting room complex from the parking lot, it doesnt look like much, but thats misleading. Inside, you will find a labyrinthine series of rooms. In addition to the restaurant/tasting room, there is an event space, a downstairs bistro and long sunroom, in addition to the seasonal outdoor seating. Each room is filled with memorabilia collected by Kreso over a lifetime. It lends a sort of eclectic aura to many of the rooms, but it also imparts a degree of charm. It is a space worthy of exploration.
Vinoklet is known for its grilled dinner, and its a popular dining destination. Columbus Monthly listed it among the states top ten food and wine destinations. Cincinnati Magazine readers voted it the areas Most Romantic Restaurant. The price of the meal includes a tasting and a bottle of Vinoklet wine or one of the Croatian wines that are also kept on hand. During dinner, Kreso worked his audience like a seasoned comedian and entertained each table in turn. Hes a fixture in the restaurant and has a reputation for his sense of humor and tableside banter.
Prior to my visit, another winery owner told me to insist on trying the Vinoklet Traminette. It was selected as the best Ohio wine in 2012 and simply must be sampled. I mentioned this to Kreso, who brought out a bottle. He poured us each a glass and then poured one for himself to prove, he said, that the wine is not poison. It certainly lived up to the hype and demonstrated all the best characteristics of that varietal. Other wines of note included both vinifera and French-American hybrids. Indeed, all of the wines were well crafted. I continued to be amazed by the quality of wine I tasted in Southwest Ohio, in a region that gets very little recognition.
Vinoklet Winery is a gem and easily ranks among Ohio’s best wineries. Its reputation as a popular spot for food and wine is well deserved and the level of service is first rate. Its location, not far from the Interstate 75 corridor, makes it easily accessible for local residents or travelers just passing through. In short, this is a must-visit location for anyone exploring Ohio wineries. I will go a step further and say that Vinoklet is an excellent introductory winery for anyone currently unfamiliar with the areas wines. Its a fabulous venue and well worth your time.