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JLH Wines increases its wine portfolio Labor of love

Published: Wed, May 3, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

If You Go...

What: Wine Academy: An Evening with JLH Wines

Where: Leo’s Ristorante, 7042 E. Market St., Hubbard

When: 6 p.m. May 12

Tickets: www.myvalleyvino.com

By Brian Fry


Wine distribution has evolved quite a bit over the last 10 years. Back then, most of Ohio’s major cities had three or four local or regional distributors. Now only a few remain in the entire state, due to larger state-wide distributors acquiring almost all of the smaller ones.

One man is working hard to buck that trend. Jim Howe, former wine manager for Nannicola Distributing Inc., decided to purchase the business and run it on his own as JLH Wines. “It’s a labor of love for me,” he says.

At a time when many others are selling or closing their doors forever, Howe sees an opportunity in the situation.

“I don’t find it a problem competing in an environment dominated by large corporations,” Howe says. “I came from the corporate world, so I understand well where my business fits and what advantages we can offer.”

One of those advantages, he says, is offering smaller wineries the chance to get their wines in front of Mahoning Valley consumers.

“There is an ocean of wine out there,” he says. “The large distributors have the main body of what’s available, but there is so much great wine out there that needs representation in this country.”

JLH Wines focuses on wineries and varietals that may be overlooked by large distributors, and its sales approach is focused on building relationships with customers.

Howe’s wine portfolio has grown significantly since he purchased the business, with an eclectic and interesting mix of regions and countries to provide what the larger distributors are missing.

“There are a lot of restaurants, wine shops and independent grocery stores who want to differentiate themselves in their customers’ minds,” he says. “So they look to offer some things that are a little bit different.”

Howe will be featuring his portfolio at Wine Academy on May 12, which will give consumers a chance to taste his portfolio and buy local.

“This event is the perfect environment for my business model,” Howe says. “People may not be familiar with a lot of my wines, but when they get the chance to taste and learn how to pair them with food, it all comes together.”

Howe is appreciative of local businesses who have supported the growth of JLH by offering its wines, including Station Square Ristorante, Vernon’s, Michael Alberini’s and Cafe 422.

Here’s a look at a few of the wines that will be featured at the upcoming event:

2015 Good Earth White Blend – Finger Lakes, New York: a crowd-pleasing yet sophisticated introduction to Finger Lakes wine that’s as delicious as it is refreshing.

2012 J Fernando Tempranillo – Tierra Di Castilla, Spain: a medium-bodied red with aromas of dried violets and baked berries. Flavors of raspberry, red cherry and a hint of baking spice on the finish.

2012 Saraceno “Libero” Chianti – Toscana, Italy: a tremendous value that offers excellent structure and integration of flavors. A wonderful wine to enjoy with a variety of traditional Italian dishes.

Valley residents can find JLH Wines at Chalet Premier, North Lima; Vintage Estates, Boardman; The Italian Marketplace, Niles; and Cork & Cap Bottle Shop, Warren.

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