Nicholas Longworth, a millionaire, is known as the â€œFather of the American Wine Industry.â€� He was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1783 and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1803, the same year Ohio became a state. Nicholas Longworth was a lawyer, a banker, and recognized as a leading horticultural expert.
His interests in horticulture, and specifically grapes, led him to plant hundreds of acres, establishing a vineyard of Catawba grapes along the Ohio River. He started his vineyards in 1813 and by 1820 he became more serious about producing wine that would be a commercial success. He began making a sparkling wine with his Catawba grapes. The influx of German immigrants coming into the Ohio Valley near Cincinnati found his wine to be much like the wine enjoyed in Europe, establishing a market for his product. From 1830 through the 1850s, he distributed his Catawba wine throughout the United States and Europe. By 1850, he was one of the wealthiest men in the United States.
Nicholas Longworth died in Cincinnati in 1863 at the age of 80. He was the great grandfather of Nicholas Longworth IV, a United States House of Representatives from Ohio. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a poem dedicated to Nicholas Longworth titled Ode to Catawba Wine. His vineyards also encouraged artists to paint scenes of the Ohio River Valley, and the Ohio River Valley Wine Trail (formerly the Nicholas Longworth Wine Trail), in Southwest Ohio, is Ohioâ€™s first and most historic wine region.