Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Vermilion Tour

One of the easiest trails from Cleveland is the Vermilion Valley tour. Paper Moon, Vermilion Valley, and Matus Winery are only minutes from each other, and they highlight how every winery provides a unique experience. Paper Moon has a new Old World feel with its high ceilings, large fireplace, and casual patio near the vineyards where music is heard in the summer and a bonfire blazes in the fall. Vermilion Valley makes a statement with its A-line building on a hill overlooking a pond and rows upon rows of vineyards, while inside, the clean lines of the minimalist architecture complement the business of wine tasting. And at Matus, the oldest of the three wineries, the rugged interior invites parties for people who like wine but aren't quite as serious about it. The three winemakers are as different as the wineries, and their
personalities are reflected in the space provided for people to enjoy their wines. You'll find the wines to be better than expected, but that might be because you haven't tried the estate-bottled and handcrafted wines available only at our local wineries.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I'm looking for fellow wineries explorers to join me on weekends over the coming months.  Our mission:  to learn as much as we can about the Canal Trail wineries of Ohio.  Come along with me as I research my next book.  Any takers?  Send me an

Friday, November 9, 2012

Upcoming Book Signings

Coming up on Winter again, the harvest over, we hope this winter will be kinder to our grapes than last winter was. An early spring followed by a frost hurt last year's crop, but the warm summer created some really great juice for next year's wines.

I'm going to make the most of winter by planning a wineries tour for mid-January. This should stave off the winter blues. Until then, find me and my books (which make great Christmas gifts) at Laurello Vineyards in the Geneva area on November 17 from 12-5PM; at Markko Winery in Conneaut from 11AM-6PM on December 1; and at Quarry Hill in Berlin Heights from 2:30-6:30PM on December 8.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Silver Lining Riesling

Silver Lining Dry Riesling was released at Paper Moon Winery on Thursday, March 8th. Last summer, Adam Cawrse (winemaker), visited Canada to attend a Reisling conference, and he was inspired to try some new techniques. Only 139 cases of their Silver Lining wine was made available, and we were able to try some during the September wine tasting. The Riesling grapes in this wine were hand-picked from Ohio vineyards in the Lake Erie appellation. The grapes were crushed, lightly pressed, and juice was pumped to a tank for cold settling where it fermented for 3-1/2 weeks. The wine is exceptional with pear, melon, and citrus flavors. It is a great wine, and if you get there soon, you can try it! Paper Moon is on Route 60 in Vermilion.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

No One But Hermes Would Dare . . .

To grow 25 varieties of grapes on land near Lake Erie in Sandusky.  The first vineyards were planted at Hermes Vineyards & Winery in 2002, ten years ago.  A country drive south on Route 4 in Sandusky travels through lush farm country not far from Lake Erie’s shores.   Hermes Vineyards, surrounded by wild flowers, hosts wine tastings in an old threshing barn with a dilapidated silo.  But don’t be fooled by its rustic interior—the barn has been restored into an intimate spot in which to enjoy Ohio wines from European-style vinifera grapes. 
The wine list contains no grapes native to Ohio, no Catawbas or Concords or anything other varieties enjoyed in the area during Ohio’s early winemaking days before the Prohibition. The super-peppery Grenache and the award-winning 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon can make this wine maker proud.  As can the amazing variety of wines. White wines include the well-made Semillon and true German Gewurztraminer and Reisling. Unlike most white wines, the Sauvignon Blanc is semi-sweet.  The red wines include grapes originating in Spain, like the Tempranillo, some from France--French Petit Verdot and Merlot--and Italian vines including Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.  The Sandusky vineyards contain only vinifera grapes--Italian, Spanish, Rhone, and Burgundy grapes are brought in from nurseries after the owner studies the clones. The grapes include Vignior, Alianco, Sangiovese, Nebiola, Cabernet, Tarilea, and Reisling. 

Owner Dr. David Kraus's mother’s family grew grapes in Germany’s Moselle Valley where the Hermes family still grows grapes today.Formerly known as Sand Hill Winery, its name was changed to Hermes Winery to solve the confusion raised by the name of the vineyards, which has always been Hermes. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Purist in Wine and Food - Ken Tarsitano

Ken Tarsitano, owner and wine maker at Tarsitano Winery & CafĂ© in Conneaut, encouraged me to focus on current wineries along the lakeshore.  Ken takes growing grapes and making estate-bottled wines a step further:  he takes the extra steps to be an organic wine maker.  When one opens a bottle of Tarsitano wine, which must be tasted with bread warm from the oven and made behind the tasting counter, one tastes the Earth along the lake shore. On dairy land originally owned by the Finnish Ahos and Italian Tarsitanos in Conneaut, Tarsitano Winery perches on a ridge in a cedar-sided barn. The winery, certified organic in 1998, grows grapes more naturally by recognizing the negative charges of the vines. Wine production occurs year round with the introduction of new bottlings at Christmas to replace those brought out in the summer. The Lemberger wine is fruity and full-bodied and worth the trip. The smell of baking bread entices visitors to linger over a dish of pasta while admiring the rows of vineyards outside the window. All four Conneaut Creek wineries equal one Ferrante in production, so they collaborate with events like progressive dinners.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ohio - Premier Wine Producing State

The lure of a romantic lifestyle and self-sufficiency leads new vintners to follow their dreams every year.  Most people don’t know that Ohio once produced more wine than any other state during the mid-1800s, primarily due to the efforts of real estate tycoon Nicholas Longworth of Cincinnati, who cultivated 1200 acres of Catawba grapes on his Ohio River Valley land by 1840. Longworth became wealthy by planting and harvesting grapes, pressing them to extract the juice, and fermenting the juice into wine. When southern Ohio grapes started to rot on the vine, the Lake Erie wine industry flourished. Ohio’s wine industry languished as California’s star rose at the turn of the 20th century. Many wineries continued to produce wine for local consumption, and nearby farms and vineyards supplied the grapes until industrialization from Cleveland to Toledo swallowed up prime growing property along the lakeshore. Prohibition destroyed the wine industry in Ohio, but a small number of farms along Lake Erie’s shore continued to grow grapes.