Northeast Ohio Wines, Wine Bars and Wineries

IMG_1619I’m a wine connoisseur like I’m an ice cream connoisseur–I like what I like. I don’t have the training or palate to discern why I like certain wines (yet!), but I do enjoy a good glass of wine. My tastes continue to change along with my food pairing, environment and reason for enjoying a glass, but I am always excited to try something new, especially when there is someone to provide some explanation or pairing suggestion.

I can’t wait to explore all the wineries and wines of the Pacific Northwest (and I’m discovering there are quite a few!). I hope I will learn a little along the way so I can make more educated selections moving forward.

While the Pacific Northwest has some pretty established AVAs, Northeast Ohio has its fair share of local wineries as well. I know some people only drink wines from France, Italy or Napa, but I actually enjoyed trying some of the local wineries and wine bars around Northeast Ohio.

Overall I would say the local wines tended to be a little sweet for me, but the wineries and wine bars were fun and all had their own personalities. I visited some with co-workers, others with friends, some during my bachelorette party and others with my husband.

Although by no means a comprehensive list, the following are many of the wineries and wine bars I visited and a few quick thoughts on each.

Wineries

  • Gervasi Vineyard, Canton, Ohio
    • My first Gervasi experience was right after it opened–one of my clients wanted to host an event for industry analysts so a few members of our account team went to make sure the venue was appropriate. (Read: Indulged in a smorgasbord of food and drink!) Gervasi has come a long way since then, adding Villas, the Crush House, an outdoor patio, a pavilion, etc. We even looked at having our wedding there. Despite the changes, three things have remained the same–the incredible food, the selection of wines and the atmosphere. It’s one of my favorite spots, and someday I’ll stay in one of the Villas!
Maize Valley Winery
Autumn afternoon at Maize Valley Winery
  • Maize Valley Winery,Hartville, Ohio
    • I had never heard of Maize Valley until my boss planned a day-long team-building/planning session that ended at the winery. We went in the fall, and while I assume they have activities year-round, the fall was an incredible time to go. We got to see the animals, taste the food and wine, and ride out to the pumpkin patches. This one is definitely family friendly and fun! I wrote about our time there in this post.
Wedding Shower at Barrell Run
Wedding shower on the Barrell Run patio
  • Barrel Run Crossing and Vineyard,Rootstown, Ohio
    • I found out about Barrel Run when I wrote an article for my employer’s biannual magazine. We featured it because it is managed by two of the university’s alumni, but our visit for the article was just the first of many outings to its patio and private indoor rooms. From wedding showers to baby showers to going-away parties, Barrel Run became the perfect, rustic locale for small group events. The staff is so friendly and on a couple of occasions they whipped up some food for us that wasn’t even on the menu. I enjoyed their wine, but I really enjoyed the ever-changing sangrias as well! It’s a great spot to escape, sit on a patio and watch the world, and the trains, go by.
  • Sarah’s Vineyard,Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
    • Living in the Falls for several years right out of college, I had the opportunity to attend tons of concerts and other musical events. From activities in nearby Kent, to Rockin on the River along the waterfront, to the larger concert venues like Blossom Music Center, the Falls was perfectly situated to meet all my music and concert-going needs. I went to many concerts at Blossom with friends, colleagues and my boyfriend/now husband, and if we left early for the show, we would stop in Sarah’s Vineyard, which is just across the street from one of Blossom’s main entrances. The only way to describe the winery is whimsical! The tasting room is decorated with all kinds of pictures, paintings and crafts by local artists, and the wines often included some local berry options beyond grapes. It’s the perfect stop for a low-key drink before a rocking concert!
  • Thorn Creek Winery, Aurora, Ohio
    • We found Thorn Creek soon after we got engaged and went during late winter/early spring to see if it was a viable wedding location. It was too small for our purposes, but it’s size and rustic feel–both inside and out–were endearing, and we took my in-laws there to enjoy some wine a few months later. The winery has an awesome basement that I always thought would make a great shower or small party room. The patio out back is in an awesome garden that gives you a sense of privacy. Great spot for a low-key afternoon!
Outside Debonne
Outside Debonne Vineyards
  • Debonne Vineyards, Geneva, Ohio
    • I had never heard of Debonne until my bachelorette party where my girlfriends joined me for an incredibly relaxing wine tour. I really enjoyed Debonne because you could sit outside in the sun on picnic tables and listen to live music! A band has to be second only to cheese when it comes to essential wine pairings. I could have easily spent the entire day at Debonne.
  • Winery at Spring Hill, Geneva, Ohio
    • If you are into a low-key, rustic drinking experience–and by that I mean sipping wine on a picnic table watching your friends play corn hole, their own wine glasses in hand–then you should check out the Winery at Spring Hill. The winery looks like a converted barn with a simple but pretty patio, live music and outdoor activities to keep everyone in your group entertained.
Patio at Ferrante
On the patio at Ferrante Winery
  • Ferrante Winery, Geneva, Ohio
    • Among the bigger production wineries in Northeast Ohio, Ferrante Winery offers a legitimate winery experience with tours, a sit-down restaurant and a beautiful patio complete with fountains and well-manicured landscaping. To be honest this is somewhere I would rather go for an event, like a shower, birthday party, etc. versus a stop on a winery tour. It felt like a place where you should get dressed up and enjoy a great meal and bottle of wine. I thought it was a little intimidating for our winery tour purposes, but I would highly recommend it as a stand-alone spot for a great evening.
  • South River Vineyard, Geneva, Ohio
    • Also known as the Church Winery, South River Vineyard is probably one of the better recognized wineries in Geneva just because of its looks–it’s a renovated church! The inside is adorable with wooden pews and stained glass windows, but the pavilion out back is just as impressive. You can enjoy your wine while looking out over the surrounding fields. I think it’s usually busy–most of the bus tours make a stop, and you always have the seasonal bikers and bachelorettes, but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Although not technically in Northeast Ohio, Mon Ami Winery in Port Clinton, Ohio, gets special recognition because it’s one of my favorite places to go when we visit my husband’s family in Marblehead. Mon Ami has great live music, which we always check out during the summer, and their food is incredible. We especially enjoyed the seafood buffets on Saturday nights. Believe me, all you can eat crab + a bottle of wine + a band = heaven.

Wine Bars

  • Cellar 59, Stow, Ohio
    • I discovered Cellar 59 around the holidays and went with at least three different groups of friends because it was so cute! Apparently the building has housed a number of different businesses, but the wine bar is a hit. There’s a quiet, small room to the right when you enter, or the bar and lounge seating to the left. Both are great, depending on the atmosphere you’re after. I really enjoyed their Tempranillo, and the hot pretzel appetizer and flatbread pizzas are all delicious.
  • Secret Cellar, Kent, Ohio
    • We visited the Secret Cellar a couple of times–once for a big party, which was a blast, and once to have a drink before a concert across the street at the Kent Stage. There’s not much in the way of food, although you can bring in catering for parties and events, but in downtown Kent, you’re certainly not lacking for restaurants. This is a fun stop before or after your meal.
  • Riverside Wine and Imports, Kent, Ohio
    • Riverside is one of my (and my husband’s!) favorite wine bars in Kent. It’s incredible year-round. In the summer, you can sit out on the huge patio overlooking the river and the train tracks–rest assured, trains will go by! It’s beautiful and scenic, and you quickly forget you’re just off SR 43. When the weather is not cooperating, you can sit inside at the bar, among the many rows of wine for sale, or along the back and side walls for an intimate evening. We loved going on Saturday nights to hear the live music, especially when Guy Pernetti performed. While I explored all of their wine flights, my husband was always excited about their constantly rotating beers on tap. Several times we left with bottles of wine–hundreds are available for purchase if you just want to run in for a bottle to take home. We usually sprung for small plates of meats and cheeses as well– perfect for an intimate night out or for a boisterous group hanging out.

There are tons of other wineries and wine bars in Northeast Ohio–what did I miss? What are some of your favorites?

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