Tableside With Kate MacDonald of Skeleton Root Winery

After soaking up wine knowledge in Napa, Kate MacDonald returned to Cincinnati to open Skeleton Root Winery, bottling reds and whites made with local grapes in an Over-the-Rhine warehouse.

How did you get into wine?
I’ve worked [as an engineer] for 12 years now and moved around a lot. I ended up just outside of the Finger Lakes for a portion of my career and fell in love with wine there. Being the crazy analytic that I am, I had to know how it was done.

What role does wine play in Cincinnati’s history?
Whenever you say wine here, a lot of people say No, it’s beer. Well, it was wine first. In the 1850s, this was the largest grape-growing, winemaking region in the country. What Napa Valley is today in terms of reputation and acres under vine was the Ohio River Valley during that time.

What makes Ohio wine unique?
We have some great, cool nights. We don’t get excessively hot—we’re not a desert climate—[so] we’re able to preserve a lot of the innate acidity in the fruit. From a winemaking perspective, it makes it really easy to take grapes and transform them into something that is balanced in the glass and goes well with local food. That’s why I see the viability here.

Where did the name Skeleton Root come from?
We wanted a name that paid homage to the roots that were once here. This is not a traditional winery. We are not traditional winemakers.

The Skeleton Root, 38 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 253-6727,



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