When it comes to states that are producing great American wine, Ohio might not spring to mind the way that places like California, Oregon and Washington do. Yet, as the push to buy local continues to gain momentum, it only makes sense to sample some of what our region's vineyards have to offer.
South River Vineyard
For the setting: Located in a century- old church that's been transplanted from Shalersville to Harpersfield, South River offers one of the most unique and beautiful settings among Ohio wineries. Visitors can sip wine inside the church while taking in the building's architecture from an old pew. Or opt to sit out on South River's grand patio and enjoy great vistas of the sprawling vineyards. Wine varieties include Semillon, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
6062 S River Rd W, 440-466-6676, southrivervineyard.com.
For a one-stop shop: Featuring wine tours and tastings, restaurants, hotel rooms, a spa, yoga, culinary classes, weddings and special events, this Italian-themed Ohio winery can keep visitors entertained for an entire weekend. Or, simply pop in for a few hours to stroll around Gervasi's expansive grounds and sample some of their 15 available wines, all of which are bottled and cellared on premise. Gervasi's offerings include mostly Italian varieties of whites, reds, dessert wines and ports such as Moscato, Nebbiolo, Barolo and Lambrusco.
1700 55th Street NE, 330-497-1000, gervasivineyard.com.
For an all-around great winery: Harpersfield's friendly staff (and dogs), cozy tasting room, beautiful farm grounds and outdoor pavilion offer visitors an ideal atmosphere to enjoy the vineyard's delicious estate-bottled wine. Notable varieties include their reserve Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It's also a nice place to stop for sustenance, with a kitchen that turns out a menu of housemade small plates, sandwiches, flatbreads and sweets.
6387 State Route 307 W, 440-466-4739, harpersfield.com.
Vermilion Valley Vineyards
For a truly local experience: One of the few wineries in Ohio that grows all of its own grapes for its wine, Vermilion Valley's winemakers are focused on producing top quality local wine. Eleven different grape varieties are cultivated at the vineyard, selected for their ability to thrive in this region's climate. Their semi-sweet Gewürztraminer and dry Lemberger certainly are worth a try. The vineyard also offers wines made from fresh fruits, including blueberry, peach and pear.
11005 Gore Orphange Rd., 440-965-5202, vermilionvalleyvineyards.com.
For a large group: An extra friendly staff, regular schedule of entertainment, comfortable tasting room and inviting restaurant make Laurello Winery one of the area's most welcoming for large groups or even bus tours (call ahead to reserve). Laurello offers an extensive list of red and white wine varieties including Cabernet Franc, a Super Tuscan Red Blend, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Those in the mood for something sweet should ask to sample their well-loved Sweet Genevieve Ice Wine.
4573 State Rt. 307 E, 440-415-0661, laurellovineyards.com.