by Rich Warren
In the last issue of the TheWineBuzz, I shared culinary commentary about my dining experiences at six of Ohio’s destination wineries. I was just get getting warmed up! Many of the Buckeye State’s wineries offer sumptuous fare, and I’m delighted to share my experiences at six more of them!
Raven’s Glenn Winery and Restaurant
The restaurant at Raven’s Glenn Winery in Coshocton County is reminiscent of an Italian trattoria, with a towering stone fireplace, chandeliers adorned with green, blue and clear glass wine bottles, and a long line of windows that permit views of the slow-moving Tuscarawas River. If you prefer to dine al fresco, there’s a charming deck on the riverbank, complete with grapes entwined in an arbor, overhead. The cuisine has an Italian influence; you’ll find calamari and a variety of pastas on the menu, as well as artisan sandwiches, steaks, salads and flatbread pizzas. The biggest sellers here are the Ravens Ribeye, the Pecan-Crusted Lake Erie Walleye, and the Carbonara. I can vouch for all three! Dinner specials are chef’s choice, and can include anything from Merlot Steak, to Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Basil. Do NOT pass up the insanely delicious Daul Cheese Potato Spheres appetizer, a house specialty!
Just outside of Morrow, it’s easy to spot Valley Vineyards even from a distance. Its half-timbered exterior resembles a chalet plucked from the Austrian Alps, where the original owners, the Schuchter family, trace their heritage. Inside, three separate dining rooms can seat more than 400 people with the Alpine ambiance continuing with a fireplace, beams, and chestnut paneling. There’s even a simulated waterwheel and Tiffany lamps. In early 2000, the Schuchters sold the business they’d operated since 1970 to former Tasting Room manager Carla Vignes, but core elements of the business remain, including the menus offered in the dining areas. Most popular items include the steak burger and the Bavarian pretzel platter, but there are also other sandwiches, salads, and fresh-baked pizzas to choose from. The big draw at Valley Vineyards, however, are the outdoor cookouts, once only offered in the summer months, but now scheduled on weekends all year long. Guests have a choice of New York strip, salmon, shrimp, or crab cakes (with filet mignon also offered for an upcharge), which they grill themselves on charcoal grills outside. A self-serve buffet offers choices like red potatoes, rice pilaf, green beans, local bi-color corn and desserts like cheesecake, pecan pie and brownies. Come hungry — the buffet is all-you-can-eat!
Michael Angelo’s Winery
Michael Angelo’s Winery in Richfield is both spacious and inviting. You’ll immediately be impressed with the cathedral ceilinged main tasting room and bar, made warm and comfortable with couches, tables, and contemporary chandelier lighting. Adjacent rooms offer venues for more intimate conversations. Several large, outdoor patios are particularly popular with guests who crowd them in the warmer months. The menu varies monthly and seasonally, but constants include a number of shareable items like calamari and truffle fries, pasta, salads, and pizza. I was tempted to order the Smoked Brisket Sliders, but opted instead for the Gnocchi Served with Diced Chicken, Spicy Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and Pickled Garlic Chutney. It was out of this world, albeit with a hefty zing. Save room for dessert from Michael Angelo’s Bakery. On the extensive dessert and bakery menu are sweets, cakes, cookies and cookie sandwiches, tiramisu, cannolis, macarons and gourmet cupcakes with signature “Classic Ho Ho” and “Unicorn” flavors, the latter of which comes complete with the pointy horn!
Ferrante Winery & Ristorante
The Ferrante family started making wine in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood in 1937, before moving to a larger facility in Ashtabula County’s Grand River region in the 1970s. Since the mid-1990s, the family, now in its third generation, has been serving Italian fare with an elevated twist in a spacious dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Estate’s extensive vineyards. Crowd-pleasers here include the Filet Mignon Topped with Gorgonzola Cheese, and the unique Gnocchi Brue, served with chunks of filet atop potato gnocchi. Longtime Ferrante family recipes include the Lasagna, the Vitello (veal) a la Vidal with Roasted Wild Mushrooms, and matriarch Josephine Ferrante’s Mammoth Meatballs with ricotta, basil and a slightly sweet marinara, which can be ordered atop spaghetti or as a stand-alone appetizer. Monthly rotating specials might include Pan-Roasted Scallops or Brined Pork Chops Wrapped with Smoked Bacon. The Italian dessert fare includes (what else?) cannolis, tiramisu, and the popular limoncello gelato served in a champagne glass that’s yours for the keeping.
At first glance, the vine-covered silo on the weathered barn south of Sandusky, appears unremarkable. Turn off the highway into the parking lot, however, and you’ll spot an addition to the humble façade, that’s fast becoming a destination for wine lovers. The old, weathered barn has been completely gutted and remodeled. The enormous addition, informed by the aesthetic of the original barn and constructed of wood repurposed from the barn, is big enough to hold a square dance. Rustic meets chic in the massive and elegant three-tiered chandelier, suspended from the rafter. Standard fare includes bruschetta, dips, antipasto, and flatbreads. Sumptuous specials, offered nightly, include Blackened Shrimp, Seafood Marinara, and Mushroom Langostino. The Winerie offers three, sublime and sophisticated slider sandwiches, including Orchard Cabernet Beef, Chicken & Brie with Pear, and Chicken with Red Pepper. For dessert? Cheesecakes and a S’mores Board with chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallows. Pure comfort food. Rustic and refined – that’s what you’ll get at The Winerie.
Located just two minutes off the Findlay exit for I-75, the Gillig Winery offers a delightful bistro menu for hungry tasters and travelers. Its sandwich menu includes a Chicken Pesto, a “Poppy Porker” with pulled pork and poppyseed dressing, and a Mile High Trifecta with chicken breast, ham, bacon, and cheddar that I particularly enjoyed. The Tickle Your Tastebuds sandwich features a jalapeño jam – homemade by the Gillig family – with cream cheese, provolone, cheddar, and bacon if you want it. If you enjoy the jam, jars are available for take home. Alternately, the jam is offered as an appetizer with items like Bacon and Blue Cheese Munchies, and Loaded Tots piled high with bacon, queso, barbecue sauce, and chipotle ranch. Soups change daily and specials rotate monthly. During my visit, the winery’s specials included a Caribbean Mango Salad with chicken breast, a “Kickin’ Chicken” sandwich with cheddar cheese, pineapple, barbecue sauce and jalapeños, and Peach Crisp Cheesecake for dessert.
Bon appétit, fellow foodies! Six more Ohio winery dining destinations down, many more to go!
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