Northern Ohio Winery Roundup

by Claudia J. Taller

When you tour a winery, you have a unique opportunity to experience the creative energy, hard work and determination that turns a great vision, into a delicious reality. The wineries of Northern Ohio successfully balance grape growing and winemaking, with tasting and touring experiences for appreciative visitors who return again and again. This is how some of them do it.

Grapes were first grown at Firelands Winery (formerly Mantey Winery) in Sandusky, in 1880. Today, the vineyard produces grapes native to the Mediterranean region, Central Europe, and Southwestern Asia, and continues to make old-style Ohio labrusca wines under the Mantey, Mon Ami, and Lonz labels. Start with a flight of wines at the tasting bar, then dine on seasonal wood-fired pizza from the Exposition Kitchen.

Brady Vineyards of Ohio in Wellington, is located on 140 acres of picturesque farmland, and produces wines under the Heron Creek Wine label. Its Cabernet Franc won the bronze medal at the 2021 Ohio Wine Competition. Established in 2016, the winery crafts wines from blackberries and labrusca, Chardonel, Riesling and Marquette grapes grown in its 12-acre vineyard. Last year, Brady Vineyards harvested 35,000 pounds of grapes and produced approximately 15,000 bottles of wine. The winery is open one Saturday a month, for tastings and sales.

You’ll find the Western Reserve Meadery in Cleveland’s Duck Island Neighborhood, a five-minute walk from the West Side Market. The world’s oldest fermented beverage, mead is made by fermenting honey and water, then adding fruits, spices, grains or hops. “Mead is a diverse beverage; it has its own set of virtues, compared to wine,” explains co-founder, Douglas Shaw. Enjoy a flight of mead in the Meadery’s historic, brick-walled tasting room, while knowledgeable staff provides insight about subtle taste notes.

CLE Urban Winery, located in what was formerly an auto repair garage in Cleveland Heights, sources premium West Coast grapes to make handcrafted Blackberry Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, Rose, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. A 3,000-square-foot tasting room with a roll-up garage door opens to the outdoors when the weather is fine. Customers at the tasting bar enjoy a front row view of the production process.

Sarah’s Vineyard grows grapes in the Cuyahoga Valley across from Blossom Music Center. The winery, owned by Margaret and Michael Lytz, is a beautiful tribute to Margaret’s late daughter, Sarah. Enjoy a glass of wine in the pleasant perennial flower gardens, or sip in seating areas near the fragrant vineyards or the art gallery tasting room. The winery’s varied menu compliments handcrafted wines that include Blue Heron Blush, an estate blend of Vidal, Seyval, Cayuga, Traminette and Rubiana grapes, and Irritable, a blend of Muscat, Alicante and Zinfandel grapes.

Michael Angelo’s Winery in Richfield, works with vineyards across the country to source great grapes for their wines. The winery is known for its sparkling wines, but you’ll find a diverse offering of wines to enjoy with good seasonal food. The outdoor patios provide a relaxing al fresco experience and the indoor dining is cozy. Order a fig and blue pizza, or any delicious menu item, choose a bottle of wine, and enjoy with friends and family. Before you depart, visit the bakery for some take-home.

After the owners of Stonegait Winery in Madison learned how to make wine, they planted a vineyard of vinifera and hybrid grapes, and converted a horse barn to house their winery. Stonegait offers a range of white and red wines, including Grand River Valley estate wines made from Seyval, Rkatsitell and Riesling. Marquette, Seyval, and Vidal grapes. The menu includes assorted shareables, sandwiches, salads, and pizza that can be enjoyed in a rustic indoor space with a fireplace, or outside on the beautiful patio.

Kosicek Vineyards in Harpersfield, traces its roots to 1929 when owner Tony Kosicek’s grandfather, a Slovenian immigrant, planted the vineyards. You can see those vineyards from the winery’s windows, or from its attractive outdoor spaces. The winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Vidal Blanc, and Chardonnay, as well as Concord Ice Wines and unique blends handcrafted from estate-grown French hybrids. Local cuisine enhances the wines. Tony and wife Mauri’s children, Emma and Anthony, are fourth-generation Kosicek wine growers.

At Hundley Cellars in Harpersfield Township, the lodge-like tasting room overlooks the vineyards and affords an expansive view of the surrounding fields and forests. Estate wines can be sipped on outdoor decks, or near a wood-burning fireplace inside the tasting room. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, visitors can enjoy local music while sampling labrusca and vinifera wines. Try the Niagara, Sauvignon Blanc, Baron red blend, and the Merlot, and enjoy menu items that include hearty short rib pizza and kielbasa.

Each of these Northern Ohio wineries offer tasting and touring experiences among beautiful vineyards that are well worth a visit.

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