Escaping into the country to drink wine near the vineyards and a warm fire is romantic, no denying it. The Vines & Wine Trail wineries in Ashtabula and Lake counties host the Wine and Chocolate Trail event this weekend. The Ohio Wine Producer’s Association knows about romance. Unfortunately, you’ve missed the chance to receive complimentary appetizers and samples of wines and a box of Malley’s chocolates and a wine glass this year.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find a winery where you can nuzzle your sweetheart under the guise of losing all inhibitions. West siders can be cozy and play games in the 1940s-era space of John Christ Winery in Avon Lake. East siders can sit in leather chairs next to the fire at Laurello or Laurentia. If you planned ahead, you can stay at the Lakehouse in Geneva-on-the-Lake or in a bed and breakfast near Mon Ami on Catawba or in a Tuscan Villa at Gervasi. If you have a favorite winery, you can simply get in the car and drive.
We have over 200 wineries in Ohio, and they’d all like you to celebrate Valentine’s Day with them. I took a look at what the wineries are doing this weekend and my one major recommendation is to not go to only one winery when you’re out and about. If you go to Grand River Cellars for dinner on February 14, stop by Debonné Vineyards’ chalet-style winery, a mainstay winery owned by the Debevc family where the Chambourcin and Chardonnay are excellent.
Further south, at School House Winery in Dover, a small local winery with chalkboards, showcases their wines by giving away free pizza with a bottle of wine. If you’re roaming on Thursday (another very romantic thing to do, skipping work and making time just for the two of you), stop in at Breitenbach Winery and the Guggisberg Cheese Factory and any number of other Amish country venues. Make a long weekend of it and find a room at the Inn at Honey Run.
D&D Smith Winery in Norwalk (yes, there’s a winery in Norwalk!) offers a special dinner to drink with your wine: cabbage, sausage & potatoes with salad is only $8/person. On your way out there, Firelands Winery beckons with its North Bass Island wines and Matus Winery and Vermilion Valley do tastings. If you get an early start, stop at Paper Moon for a panini with wine, and if you’re out late, there are B&Bs in downtown Vermilion that are worthwhile destinations for the night.
If you want to have dinner and be entertained, check out Urban Winery in Willoughby. Urban Vintner & Artisan Anthony’s collaborate on a six-course Valentine’s Day Wine Dinner with a menu to compliment handcrafted wines. Start with tomato basil bruschetta with creamy mascarpone on garlic crostinis and bacon-wrapped baby scallops paired with champagne. That might be enough for me, but there are four more courses until you arrive at dessert with mini cannolis with a Nutella whipped cream filling & fresh berries drizzled chocolate ganache and paried with Muddy Paw (a local winery) Cabernet Sauvignon. Entertainment is provided by Eric Thompson.
Love the wineries. Love each other. It’s all about love over the next few days.
Claudia J. Taller is the author of Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries and Ohio’s Canal Country Wineries. Find her books at http://claudiajtaller.com or on Amazon.