Weekend Recap: Northeast Ohio Wine Country

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m relatively new to the Cleveland area and always on the lookout for cool things to do. So, when I saw this article in last week’s SCENE magazine and heard food editor Doug Trattner on Majic 105.7 talk about his trips to local wineries, I knew just what my weekend would have in store – lots of wine!

My boyfriend recently built a “buffet” (as he calls it) for our dining area, (see below) which is really a glorified wine rack/alcohol holder/etc. and is always looking for wine to fill it with.

buffet

So, after reading the article and talking with an awesome coworker who has done many a trip to the wine area, I decided to tweet to discover where other people recommended. Reason #5204 why I love twitter: people give honest, open, and quick feedback! And, as usual, the responses were amazing! twitterwine

So, taking all that into account, my trip was planned and it was decided we would visit Debonne, South River, Markko and Harpersfield. Are you making a trip to Ohio wine country anytime soon? Here are my reviews… I’ve rated the scene and the wine:

Debonne

Scene: FUN! It happened to be pet day at Debonne – meaning TONS of interesting people with their pets, mostly dogs. People watching was a must here, because not only were the dogs a fun sight, but the people at Debonne were definitely the most entertaining of all the wineries I visited. Live music was just starting as I was leaving. PLUS, Debonne had tons of food options (breads, cheeses, meats, a full grill), which is nice when you’re drinking wine!debonne wine sampler

Wine: SO-SO I only tried one of their wine tasting trays ($6), but nothing impressed me too much. Not bad, but not my favorite. Also tried a beer sampler (the winery also is home to a Cellar Rats Brewery), which the boyfriend liked.

South River

Scene: BEAUTIFUL This was definitely the most beautiful place we visited. Set in a beautiful old church, the place itself is beautiful inside, furnished all in wood. You can sit indoors, on their back porch that overlooks the grape fields, or in a covered area on the lawn (complete with wooden lawn chairs!) right next to the fields.

The only downside – no food! And by this time I was hungry (and we had a good drive to the next winery), so this was a negative.southriver

Wine: YUM! I tried three wines (it was three tastings for a small fee, unless you buy something), their Karma (blend of Merlot and Cabernet) and their two ice wines (Concord and Blush), which were delicious. I ended up buying a glass of their Concord ice wine, but couldn’t stomach more than that (too sweet!). We left with a bottle of the Karma wine.

Markko

Scene: WOW Our next stop was a little different than the first two. A hike away from the other wineries, in Conneaut, Markko is set into the woods and apart from the paved road. Literally. You have to go on a dirt road to get there. When we got there, there were no cars (no parking lot either!) and a big dog sitting out in front of what looked like a big wooden shack. But don’t let looks fool you – the woman who did our tasting was phenomenal and the wine was great as well. Again, we had no food, but I’m not sure what the offerings MAY have been if we got there earlier than 5:45 (they close early, at 6 p.m. on Saturdays).

IMG_3666Wine: THE BEST The best wine by far was at Markko. The tasting was great – it was no charge to taste any reds and whites we wanted, and we were given in depth explanations of why certain wines tasted certain ways, how different wines were made, etc. We left with a bottle of the Cabernet Reserve.

Harpersfield

Scene: VERY NICE Harpersfield offers indoor and outdoor seating and there was live music when we arrived. There were tons of people outdoors and indoors, so finding a seat was near impossible. Picnic tables, outdoor tables and tables in a covered area were scares. The indoors offered some comfy couches and more traditional wooden table seating as well.

IMG_3668The food was great – we ordered their artichoke and parmesan pizza and a starter of a cheese platter which came with sliced apple, three types of cheese and a slice of warm pepperoni bread.

Wine: GOOD The place was mobbed so we didn’t get great explanation of what we were tasting or what we should taste, but I ordered a glass of their Cabernet. It was pretty good and went well with our pizza and cheese platter – but left me no desire to buy a bottle.

All in all, a great trip. Have you been to any wineries in NE Ohio before? How do they compare to others you’ve been to in other parts of the country (or world)? Which ones would you recommend?

A disclaimer: I am not a food or wine critic. Just a young professional who likes wine and enjoys food even more. So I’m sorry if you’re offended or disagree with my opinions — they’re mine and mine alone! Feel free to let me know your own impressions of any of the places I mention.

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4 thoughts on “Weekend Recap: Northeast Ohio Wine Country

  1. Nice write up. I will link to it when I get around to updating my blog which does a lot on Ohio wine.

    Arnie @Markko is the godfather of Ohio wine. I am glad you had a great time there and really enjoyed his wine.

    A.

  2. This is a good write up, I must say.
    I am native to northeast Ohio, specifically Ashtabula County, but have lived in the western US for the last thirty years. I have traveled overseas and lived abroad, as well. I vist my familiy in Ashtabula County every year and I love wine.
    I think you presented the right light in regard to the wineries. I am a person who must adjust to the sweet wines of the region, but I appreciate the time and beauty of wine making. Markko is by far, the best winery for the true wine lover. Debonne is commercial, but fair. I love Harpersfield and would recommend that place to anyone. If you have a chance, go to Virant. They, too, are a fine winery.
    I am returning in a few weeks to visit and I will post about my new adventures. I have drank wines in Africa, Mexico, Europe and the Western US. I think that this region has something different to offer and just as good, but you must first adjust to the sweetness, then all is well, especially for this Pino Noir Fan. 🙂

    Drink on-

    • Thanks for the comment! I am not from NEO, but love and am continuing to learn about all we have here. There are so many amazing wineries that are not only beautiful, but the people are friendly and for a newbie to wine like myself, make for a great trip. I agree, I had to also adjust to the sweetness of the wine, but I have no complaints now! Enjoy your trip back.

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