by Donniella Winchell
The Ohio and Erie Canal was built in the early part of the 19th century, completing the final water link between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, remnants of the Canal are preserved in an area rich in history, beautiful scenery, Amish culture, Italian traditions and more than two dozen family-owned wineries.
In a single day, travelers can discover an eclectic mix of wines, including Ohio-grown vinifera from Chardonnay and Riesling vines, French-American hybrids such as Chambourcin and Vidal, native varietals including Concord and Niagara, meads from locally sourced honey, fruit wines and new-to-Ohio hybrids such as Frontenac and Marquette from Minnesota, as well as wine from concentrates sourced from around the globe.
At each of the Canal Country wineries, visitors will meet vintners eager to share their knowledge. They can tour cellars lined with oak barrels, walk through lush rows of grapevines or enjoy a hands-on, make-your-own wine experience.
Beyond the wines, there is much to explore in the Canal Country. Visitors can share the roadways with Amish buggies and find wineries whose buildings replicate elegant Italian style villas, German-Swiss architecture, or post-and-beam barns built in the 1800s. Some feature fieldstone fireplaces in comfortable tasting rooms; others pay homage to our nation’s railroad history, showcase elegant landscaped grounds and gardens, display barn quilts or provide outdoor seating overlooking sparkling inland lakes. You can listen to tales and legends of canal life in the 1800s as you glide in a canal boat, or visit historic Zoar Village, antique shops, tour chocolate and cheese factories or take in a city walking tour.
Dining options range from bring-your-own-picnics to authentic Amish farmstead meals, steak barbeques and white tablecloth restaurants featuring wine and food pairings.
The Canal Country Trail is ideal for an extended getaway, featuring nationally acclaimed bed and breakfasts and historic inns. A trip to Ohio’s Canal Country is, as the state tourism tag line extols, “Too Much Fun for Just One Day.”
For additional information: www.ohiowines.org