So for the holiday weekend I and the Lady in my Life decide to get away for a little together time. Since she spent most of the first third of the year in St. Louis it’s just a little make up time for us. We decided to explore the wine country of northeastern Ohio. A couple years ago we did a similar trip to the wineries along the Niagara escarpment on Lake Ontario. Simple plan, rent a hotel room in a nearby town and then explore at our leisure. Over a couple days we can easily (and safely) do about a dozen wineries.
Well if day one is any indication this trip may not go as well as that other one.
We got into our hotel in Austinburg. So far so good. Nice room and that’s all we really need. We decide to hit a couple of the wineries that are up on Lake Erie, one of which has what looks to be a very nice restaurant attached. Get in a couple tastings and then do dinner. It’s a plan.
First place is The Old Firehouse Winery. Right on the lake, they have a ferris wheel and good sized water slide next door (neither up and running yet but hey, still pretty cool). Lots of outside dining area (sadly WAY too cool this weekend for that) and a neat collection of fire department stuff inside. They do a really nice job of getting maximum seating in a very small footprint. We were upstairs with a nice view of the lake.
The wines were average to to mediocre. The one we liked best (Reflections of Lake Erie) had actually sold out! Presentation left a LOT to be desired. You get little plastic covered cups (and I mean small) on a tray. No one to talk about the wines, no one to tell you about the winery. Zip. Here’s your plastic tray with your 10 little cups (including one of spumante that was flat from having sat around too long). Disappointing.
Second up was the Lake House Inn and Winery. Again, great location on the lake. The dining room (which doubles as tasting room during cold weather) is gorgeous. Seats about 60 or so. Food was very good with prices that were just slightly on the high side (7 oz steak with sides for $34. Not terrible, especially for a destination type location). Then the problems started. They had, in this very small room, a guy with a sound system doing crooner type lounge music. He has the looks for it but has the strangest stage presence and most off putting vocal style. Nice voice but he’s doing all this smooth crooner music and inserting this odd tempo to it. Picture a waltz done by a man with a peg leg. Just weird. The part that really stuck with me was when he did “The Girl From Ipanema”, the early ’60s bossa nova hit. The classic line from the song is “The girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes each one she passes goes aaaaaaahhhh”. Now the classic interpretation of that aaaah is a long almost sensuous tribute to the legendary beauty of the young lady. What we got was a lot closer to the sound you make when the doctor wants to look at your tonsils. I don’t want to be too hard on the young man. He has more than enough voice for the songs and he certainly has the looks for the role of crooner. I just don’t get the interpretations.
The next problem was with the wines. We’ve picked up two ways of doing business here in Ohio that we haven’t seen elsewhere that don’t impress us. I’ll wait till closer to the end to pass judgement. The wines we tried (and we’re sticking pretty much to the dry reds. A few dry whites) were average t0 mediocre to our taste and overpriced. You want $20+ for a bottle of wine it needs to be impressive. There was not one that we liked. Odd flavor profiles that just didn’t grab us. As always with wine your mileage may vary.
We did take a quick jaunt into Geneva on the Lake. Neither of us have ever been there. For folks in WNY think the Canadian side of the Falls on a smaller scale with a smaller budget. But it’s clear that GOTL (saw this abbreviation everywhere) knows who and what they are and are proud of it. At first glance there’s just a sense of sincerity to the sensibility that appeals to me. Looking forward to spending some more time there.
So day one wasn’t really impressive. Let’s wait and see what the next couple days give us.