Monday, November 28, 2011

Wine Country Getaways

Geneva State Lodge was our grape escape headquarters last weekend when we celebrated our wedding anniversary.  We enjoy the inside swimming pool and hot tub and the outdoor walking paths through waves of tall flowing grasses with views of Lake Erie.  The rooms, each one with their own porch, are comfortable. Grapes, wine, and covered bridges are picked up in the Lodge's decor. The lobby is gorgeous, especially during the colder months when a fire is crackling in the fireplace and a tall tree lit with white lights stands regally near it.

The covered bridges are a bonus for our winery excursions, and we visit some of them, like Harpersfield, over and over--the photographs are different every time we go. There were few leaves on the trees, but the winding Ashtabula River and Conneaut Creek with their shale riverbanks present interesting naturescapes We remember the first time we toured the bridges and wineries, fascinated by the countryside of barns and dirt roads only an hour or so from home, which makes our getaways special.

We ate dinner at Crosswinds Grille at The Lakehouse Winery on Saturday evening, and we were once again wowed by the quality of the food.  Paul ordered the chicken with a salad (which I sampled and found tender and juicy) and I savored the shrimp with spinach fettucini and spaghetti squash, a rich and buttery plateful of deliciousness that I can duplicate at home. We enjoy watching our food being prepared in the open kitchen, which is as large as the dining room. The restaurant is tiny, but we hear it will be expanding. The Lakehouse's cascading deck at water's edge is enticing, even on a dark November night when all that can be seen are white topped waves, but the lull of continuous waves would be pleasant music to sleep by, and one day we'll spend the night at The Lakehouse's bed and breakfast instead of the Lodge.  It's much closer to the water and homier.

Homemade bread, finely crafted wine, locally harvested food, and high-quality pastas and meat await diners at Tarsitano Winery & Cafe.  Ken Tarsitano is committed to making every meal a special ocassion, and he did when we ate there late Sunday afternoon. Despite the winemaker's efforts to craft other smooth taniny red wines, I still preferred the Cabernet Sauvignon. Diners have choices of pastas and meats, and everything on the menu sounds so appealing that in the end one has to just choose something, knowing it'll be good.  We ate assorted bruschettas and raviolis, and it was all delicious, especially the ravioli made with Ken's grandmother's recipe. The steaks are cooked perfectly. Every bite was better than the last, and when dinner was over, we kept remembering how scrumptious it was.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whiskey on the North Coast?

Yep.  Gene and Heather Sigel of South River Vineyard (the "church winery") have been busy converting the a barn on their property (a couple hundred feet down the road) into a distillery.  Once it's up and running, I'll be sure to let Cool Cleveland and others know when they can go to the red barn and taste some whiskey.  Heather says Ohio's behind the times and they aim to catch up with neighboring states, like Kentucky, which has its bourbon trail.

South River Vineyard can be found at 6062 S. River Road, Geneva. Gene and Heather met while employed at Chalet Debonne and leased a small 2-acre vineyard in 1995 and purchased their present estate in 1998.  In 2000, they bought an 1892 Victorian chapel, that Gene spied on a drive to Kent, in Portage County and moved it to their property for the winery.  They do a good job with cold-winter Rieslings and deep red blends.   

Ohio Lake Erie Wineries ON SALE - Consider an Author Appearance

For the holidays, I'm selling copies of my book, Ohio's Lake Erie Wineries, for the usual $22 but I'm not charging for shipping if you order it from me (I'll autograph them for you).  The cost for two or more is $20 each.

I'm available for winery talks and wine tasting presentations.  I can adjust my Powerpoint presentation to any ocassion and it can be as formal or informal as you need it to be.  If you'd like, I can mingle with guests or customers while they try wines and just tell stories. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stop by Ferrante During the Turkey Trot

Ferrante Winery & Restorant began its history in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood where Nick Ferrante made wine after working as a tailor by day. Nick and wife Anna eventually bought land in Ashtabula County’s Harpersfield Township as a country retreat. Son Peter’s winemaking passion was spurred by visits to the vineyards. The Cleveland operation closed in 1973, and Peter and Anthony built the wood-and-stone Ferrante Winery in Ashtabula County and opened it for business in 1979.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Historic E&K Winery

Engel & Krundivig Winery was at one time one of the larger producers of wine in Sandusky.  Ohio's Lake Erie Wineries includes a photo of employees posing for a group portrait surrounded by their barrels and baskets of bottles in 1890. They are dressed as merchants or wine makers or cultivators, a tribute to the team work required to produce wine. The winery eventually became E&K Winery, whose 1944 display included Haute Sauterne, Ohio Claret, American Muscatel, and Ohio Rhine Wine. The building that housed E&K can be found in downtown Sandusky today.