By 1860, the Catawba grape had risen to prominence in Ohio, and the state led the entire nation in wine production. It wasn’t just coincidence. First planted in the state by Nicholas Longworth in 1825, Catawba quickly caught on with consumers. American wines were fairly potent at the time and wine drinkers enjoyed the light, semi-sweet style of wine made from the grape. Longworth even used it to produce the country’s first 'champagne' – Sparkling Catawba. The history of winemaking here can actually be traced back to 1823. At that time, Longworth lived in the Ohio River Valley, with vineyards planted to the Alexander and Isabella grapes. It’s hard to imagine where the Ohio wine inidustry might be today if not for Prohibition, which wiped out essentially every vineyard in the state in the early part of the 20th century. With Prohibition now just a bad memory, more than 40 wineries again operate in the state, with more in the planning stages.