5 Ohio Wineries Snag ‘Scenic Ohio’ Awards

By Paris Wolfe

In 2009, when Ted Swaldo bought a 55-acre farm in Canton, he shook hands with the former owner and promised that he would preserve its beauty. True to his word, Swaldo created the Italian-inspired entertainment campus known as Gervasi Vineyard. Today it includes a winery, distillery, brewery, multiple restaurants, a coffeehouse, cocktail lounge, luxury overnight lodging, retail and more.

For developing such elegance and beauty over the past 10 years, Gervasi Vineyard was one of five wineries honored in November by Scenic Ohio.

“Our focus has always been on preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the property, so being recognized for being one of Ohio’s most scenic wineries is very meaningful for us,” says Scott Swaldo, Gervasi Vineyard’s general manager. “We’ve built the foundation of that experience around the scenic beauty of our property and maximized it through extensive landscaping and building details.”

This isn’t a wine award, but a beautification award from Scenic Ohio that recognizes outdoor presentation at wineries. The Scenic Ohio award committee, mostly landscape architects, chose the five winning wineries.

Founded in 1933 as the Ohio Roadside Council, Scenic Ohio is the longest-standing nonprofit organization in the United States devoted to improving roadway aesthetics. The organization created the awards 20 years ago to honor places with a unique reflection of Ohio’s beauty and/or history.

Previous winners include farmsteads, villages and zoos. This is the first year that wineries were honored, but not the last, according to Scenic Ohio Chairman Gary Meisner, a landscape architect from Cincinnati.

Other Ohio wineries recognized at the 2019 Scenic Ohio Awards ceremony in November at The Lodge on Geneva on the Lake were:

  • Breitenbach Wine Cellars, Dover;
  • The Lakehouse Inn & Winery, Geneva-on-the-Lake;
  • Meranda-Nixon Winery, Ripley;
  • Terra Cotta Vineyards, New Concord.

“We’re known for our vineyard sunsets,” says Maura Meranda, co-owner of Meranda-Nixon Winery in southwest Ohio. The vineyards are planted on land that has been in her husband Seth Meranda’s family for generations; Seth’s great-grandfather once grew tobacco on part of the property. The Merandas now farm 15 acres with six grape varietals, and all of their wines are made from estate-grown grapes.

Karen Fagnilli, co-owner of The Lakehouse Inn Winery in northeast Ohio, says, “It is wonderful to be acknowledged for our labor of love over the past 19 years.”

The Fagnilli family started adding gardens to the lakefront property when they acquired it in 2000. In 2007, they added extensive paved walkways and patios. Guests enjoy expansive lakefront vistas from these landscaped areas.

It took four years for Donna and Paul Roberts to find the right land and views for Terra Cotta Vineyards in east-central Ohio. Then, one Monday morning 21 years ago, 53 acres of rolling hills went for sale. By Thursday, it was theirs. “When you drive in our driveway you can see forever,” says Donna. “Most people who come here comment on that view.”

Anita Davis, vice president of Breitenbach Wine Cellars south of Canton, attributes the beauty of her winery’s property to the vision of her father, Duke Bixler.

“When my dad bought the farm in the early 1970s, there was an old farmhouse and a barn,” Davis says. “Knowing what it looked like then, and seeing it now, really amazes me.”

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