Did not know what to expect today. We were ready to go early on a beautiful Saturday but most of the wineries don’t open till noon. Seemed a bad idea on a long holiday weekend but what can you do? What we did was just hop in the car and cruise. We ended up in Ashtabula down at the harbor. A very nice, relatively new overlook park (Point Park, I think) that gives you a great look. There is a lift bridge over the river that is kind of cool and we got to see it open. The area right down by the bridge is pretty cool looking. Lots of little shops, coffee house and the like. We enjoyed our time just hanging out in Ashtabula. I will note that the most boring McDonald’s building I’ve ever seen is also there. If you didn’t see the word “McDonald’s” on the side you wouldn’t know. There is a big traditional street sign but the building itself is just a huge brick blank from the street.
Still left us with time to kill so we decided to check out one of the more distant wineries. It opened at 11 it turned out so that worked out. First place was Emerine Estates down towards Andover. Really nice folks who grow their own grapes and do all the wine making right there. They’re also very proud that there are no additives in their wine. Found a couple of interesting wines there. Grabbed a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon called “Deja Vu”. A pleasant change from yesterday.
A long drive brought us to Grand River Cellars Winery and Restaurant. Wow. Just a gorgeous place and by far the largest we’ve seen so far. They only grow some of the grapes for their wines (mostly the ice wines) but they offered a nice selection. They do the tray presentation but our waiter (JD!) could offer at least a few pointers. The food was wonderful and we bought a bottle of the red table wine “Grand Red”. There were several that we liked.
Grand River got us on a roll. Next up was Debonne Vineyards. Another beautiful location, great building, restaurant, wonderful outside seating. Another place where you get a tray of sample cups. These were slightly larger and the wines were quite interesting. We ended up with several that we liked but they were very close. In the end we went with the aCab a lovely blend of Cab Sauv, Chambercin and Cab Franc. They also have a brewery on the premises and do flights of beer samples if you’d like. Well worth a return trip.
Our next stop was the superstar of the day and the trip. St. Joseph’s Vineyard is pretty much exactly what we are looking for in a winery. Beautiful building(which is new and in a new location. Make sure you go to the right place. They have two), surrounded by its vineyards, people inside who know the process top to bottom. They had spent the night before up to the wee hours working in the grapes. And the wines. Oh my, the wines. They have grafted Pinot Noir grapes to hardy roots and create some absolutely fabulous wines. As they walked us up through their range of Pinot Noirs (they have at least four and all of them are worth drinking) you could taste the increasing depth and complexity. At the top of the range (at least to my taste) is the Pinot Noir Reserve Estate. It is an absolutely stunning and one of the best wines I have ever tasted. $40 a bottle and worth it. Several of the area wineries that grow their own grapes got together to do a little challenge wine making. The wines are all named “Cask 1012”. Each one is a blend and the blend is left up to each winemaker. Consequently they are all a little different. This is also what’s called a continuing wine. That means that some of this years blend is held over for next year, next year held for the year after. We tried several Cask 1012s and liked them all. We bought a bottle from St Joseph’s. Just a stellar winery.
Our next stop was Harpersfield Winery. It was not listed in the Wines and Vines brochure we had. It’s right on the way between St Josephs and Ferrante so it’s easy to find. Another beautiful location, beautiful inside and out, nice and knowledgeable folks too. They don’t have a lot of dry reds and none of them blew us away (tough to be the place after St. Josephs) Would definitely recommend that you stop by however.
Right there with St Josephs is Ferrante Winery and Ristorante. Beautiful Italian style building on wonderful grounds. Another top flight winery. A bigger establishment than most but still folks who know their product. We tasted several that we really liked. The Cask 1012 is outstanding but we opted for the Vino Della Casa table red. A very nice blend of Cab Franc, Carignane and Merlot. So good. Our timing was wrong for dinner but I’m betting the food is as spectacular as the wine.
We ended the day in Geneva On The Lake. Took a walk up and down the Strip (as the main drag is inevitably called). GOTL is clearly a working class summer resort. I don’t say that in any way to denigrate the place. It has no pretensions. It’s a place to relax and have some fun. Old school arcades, pizza and burger joints, hometown donuts and ice cream. No franchise places, all local places that still seem to be run by the same families. Folks are friendly and just enjoyed the sunshine. GOTL has a reputation as a biker destination and still is very motorcycle friendly. It was a fun way to end the day.
So day two was a big step up. One more day to enjoy.