Let me start by saying that I am not really a wine person. I enjoy a glass here and there, but I don’t understand how to smell fragrances from wines or whether I taste smoke, fruit or anything else more specific than grapes. I find a good wine pleasing and that is where it ends for me. I do have friends, however, who enjoy the wine lifestyle, if you will. They take wine weekends and go to the Finger Lakes and travel around the States to different wine countries. They know their stuff.
Why do I mention that? Because my friends know wines and have told me how very good the wines are in our very own backyard of Northeast Ohio. Apparently the soil is perfect for grapes and our weather, albeit crazy at times, makes for some really great tasting grapes. Add passionate wine makers into the mix and you cannot help but make fabulous wines.
I have, unfortunately, had one too many nights where I drank a bottle of “Arbor Mist” (okay, maybe it was two) and woke up the next morning with a horrible headache, vowing to never drink wine again. After a little schooling from my friends, I learned that those experiences are not typical for the real wine lover. Getting drunk is not the goal (especially on cheap, cheap wine), discussing the wine, enjoying the wine as well as the company, and partnering the wine with good food..now that is what makes it an enjoyable lifestyle.
As you can see, I am truly a novice, but I respect the wineries in our area and respect people who love wine. It is a passion for them and I wanted to put a few of our local wineries out there for you to read about, learn more about and, hopefully, visit when you are in Northeast Ohio. Below you will find a list of a few of the wineries I have visited, there are more that I have not. You can visit www.ohiowines.org to find out more about the wineries, special wine-related events and much more from the Ohio Wine Producers Association. Since many wineries also have seasonal hours, it is best to check their websites for hours current when you want to visit.
The first stop is approximately 43 miles from Downtown Cleveland off of Route 90 and heading South on Route 528. Grand River Cellars located at 5750 S. Madison Road in Madison, Ohio (www.grandrivercellars.com) offers great wines including Red, White, Cabernet Blanc, Chardonnay, Ice Wine, Merlot and more. It looks to my untrained eye, that just about any kind of wine you would like is here. They also offer a full menu including appetizers, sandwiches, grilled flat breads, salads, a full-line of entrees and desserts. The atmosphere is amazing and the murals are beautiful. They offer live entertainment on the weekends.
The second stop Debonne Vineyards (www.debonne.com) located at 7743 Doty Road in Madison, Ohio. Debonne was the first winery I ever visited and it impressed me all those years ago. They offer a variety of Reds, Whites, Rose, and Dessert wines. They offer grilled sandwiches as well as wine-complimenting appetizers. Live entertainment is often offered at Debonne.
Next and a little bit North is Saint Joseph Vineyards (www.SaintJosephVineyards.com) located at 4900 County Line Road in Madison, Ohio. Like the others mentioned (and those not mentioned), Saint Joseph has won many awards for their wines and offer many varieties and taste sensations. There hours are a little more limited, so please be sure to check their website before heading out.
Heading slightly East, you will find Harpersfield Vineyard located at 6387 State Route 307 in Harpersfield, Ohio (440-466-4739). This is truly a lovely and rustic winery that gives you the feel of being in another place and time. I love the atmosphere here, the local beauty, the tranquility and the wine is, of course, very good also.
Our last stop on this trip for novices is Ferrante Winery & Ristorante (www.FerranteWinery.com) located at 5585 S.R. 307 in Geneva. Ferrante’s offers award-winning wines, winery tours, amazing foods and great live weekend entertainment. I have been lucky enough to have spent many warm Summer months on the patio here with good friends and exceptional wine.
Other wineries in the area include: Biscotti’s Family Winery, Buccia Vineyards, Emerine Estates, Lakehouse Inn Winery, Laurello Vineyards, Markko Vineyards, Old Firehouse Winery, Old Mill Winery, Tarsitano Winery, Virant Family Winery and the Winery at Spring Mill. As you can imagine, there is something for everyone.
I apologize this article is not more about the wines themselves, I just do not know enough to speak correctly about that. I do know that even if you are not a wine expert, you can thoroughly enjoy a day tour of the local wineries. All the locations I have been to have real experts who are more than happy to answer questions and make suggestions. That is where it gets fun, trying new things and learning new things as well.
As with any time alcohol is involved, please take care. Many of these wineries are on back roads that get very dark at night and since it is the country be on the look out for deer crossing the roads. Please use your common sense and do not drink and drive. There are tours of the area that will drive you around and that might be an option for a group. Just be safe, so you can come back another day and enjoy all the beauty and splendor of Northeast Ohio’s wine country. Happy Travels!