The nineteen wineries of the “Wine and Vine Trail” along Ohio’s eastern Lake Erie shore, range from small family-run farms to large corporate concerns. Below is a sample of some of the best known and most interesting among them:
Located in Madison, Ohio about an hour east of Cleveland, Chalet Debonne is one of the largest and most diverse of Ohio’s eastern Lake Erie wineries. In business since 1916, it is the largest estate-bottled winery in Ohio. They are best known for their Riesling and Icewine, but also produce excellent Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin red wines.
Chalet Debonne hosts concerts on weekends throughout the years and special events, such as a St. Patrick’s Day corned beef dinner (with wine) and an Easter egg hunt for kids. Visitors may take a free tour of the winery and taste a selection of Debonne wines for a small tasting fee (required by Ohio law).
Ferrante Winery, located in Harpersfield, Ohio produces fine buttery Chardonnays, crisp Rieslings, a delicious and peachy Icewine, and Vino della Casa, an off-dry house specialty wine crafted from Cayuga and Vidal grapes, among others.
Ferrante Winery is not just a winery. The adjoining restaurant serves up some of the best food in Ashtabula County. Specialties of the house include Pollo Portabella (chicken with mushrooms) and Veal Scaloppini, among other Italian favorites, and of course, all meals are accompanied by the excellent house vintages. Ferrante is also home to summer events, such as special wine dinners and jazz concerts.
Harpersfield Winery is a small, family-run estate, located about 40 miles east of Cleveland. Begun in 1979, this winery is known for its Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc wines, all of which use estate-grown grapes. Their rustic and relaxing tasting room is open for visitors to sample Harpersfield wines. A wood-burning cook stove produces home-baked bread to accompany the tasting.
Laurello Winery, located just outside of Geneva, Ohio is a family-run boutique winery, specializing in handcrafted full-bodied blended red wines, in the Tuscan style as well as crisp, acidic Rieslings and smooth Chardonnays, aged in Hungarian oak. Their Cosmos is a medium-bodied blend of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes and has subtle hints of cocoa, cherry, and coffee. The adjoining restaurant features brick-oven pizzas and elegant Italian entrees, accompanied by the house wines.
(last updated 10-4-12)