While California, Oregon and Washington come to mind when you talk about wine, there’s some fantastic wine tasting in Ohio that shouldn’t be missed.
On a recent trip home to visit my parents, they asked me if I wanted to go wine tasting one day. My brain instantly recalled all the sickening sweet wines that I’d previously had in Ohio. And while sweet wines have their place and time, it’s not something that I tend to gravitate to. Growing up, the only wines coming out of Ohio were pink catawba and concord wines. Yes, that same concord grape that makes Welch’s grape juice (more on that later).
My parents assured me the wines had gotten much better in the past few years, but I still couldn’t completely embrace the idea without a bit of skepticism. Mostly because wine is one of those things that really is up to your own taste whether you like it or not. My parents taste in wine isn’t the same as mine. Off into the countryside we went.
While we visited several wineries in Northeast Ohio, including a distillery, I was able to get a tour of Ferrante Winery, by owner Nick Ferrante, and I thought I would share the experience with you.
We started with a little wine tasting in the front of the house. 10 tastings for $7. I chose the dry to medium dry tasting but you could also choose a semi-sweet tasting (also 10 selections) or a dessert wines tasting that was 5 selections for $5. My parents chose the semi-sweet flight and we each sampled each others wines, so we could all get a good idea of the wines Ferrante produces.
While the Ferrante family started in the wine business back in 1937, Ferrante winery really got its start in the 1980’s. A fire destroyed the Ferrante restaurant in 1994 and in 1995 they re-built. It now boasts a full winery, tasting room and restaurant. Ferrante grows 12 varieties of grapes including one of my favorites, cabernet franc.
Once we were done with the tastings, Nick took us on a tour of the back of the house. This is where all the magic happens.
All the wines are fermented in stainless steel then age in oak barrels. They use a variety of barrels including French oak, American, a hybrid barrel of American and French oak as well as Eastern European oak barrels. Each one imparts its own flavor on the wine it holds.
On the day we were there, they were pressing an Italian varietal called Teroldego which is related to Dureza and is a parent of Syrah. You can see in the pictures the juicing and the end resulting skins. The skins are remarkably dry and are used in compost that then gets used back in the vineyard.
My day in Ohio wine country was really nice. The variety of wines grown there is surprising and very good. There seems to be something for everyone now. Not just the super sweet stuff. Oh, and I mentioned the concord grapes earlier. While they’re still grown in NE Ohio (and sold to Welch’s) not as many are being grown and turned into wine.
The palates are changing and the wineries in Ohio are keeping up. The only thing I really missed tasting are the ice wines coming from the state. But since I won’t go back to Ohio in the winter, I think those may elude me for a little while longer.
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