When we called to check out this little home winery, we were graciously invited to their Italian Potluck event. Because we were traveling they said not to worry about bringing anything, that there would be plenty of food. And indeed there was! We, however, had misunderstood thinking it was an evening event. When we arrived, things had pretty much wrapped up.
Dog friendly, we were all welcomed in for a tasting and a nice visit with the owners. The Classy Canines enjoyed being out of the car and relaxing while we sampled their wines.
- Traminette – Their Traminette was four years old having been aged 2 years in steel.
- Vidal Blanc – Another white that was two years old.
- Chardonnel – Aged in a neutral barrel, this wine was light and citrusy. It was technically a dry wine but tasted sweet.
- Apple – This all fruit wine was a blend of four different apples with a hint of spice.
- Fredonia – Having had our own experience with Fredonia, we had to try this one. Their sweetened version came off much better than ours which we had left dry.
- Blackberry Port – Three different styles of fermenting were used to create this 5 year old port. It was reminiscent of a Blackberry Brandy” with a 27% alcohol level.
- Sweet Niagara – With flavor true to the grape, we did not find this wine to be overly sweet.
In addition to the wine samples, we enjoyed good conversation about families and wine making. It was a very relaxing way to end a full day of wine tasting in Ohio.
With a winding driveway through the vineyards, Mastropietro Winery was set back in the midst of the vines with a large impressive patio. The Classy Canines and I found a spot at one of the tables near a grassy area and Bushmaster went in to check out the wine tasting options.
After I got over my disappointment that they were out of their Estate Grown Chambourcin, we marked off our selections and then Bushmaster returned to the tasting room to obtain our samples. The setup for their tastings was a perfect arrangement for having the dogs with us as they provided them to us all at once on a tray for easy transport out to the picnic area.
We sampled the following:
- Chardonnay – Described as buttery with a hint of vanilla, I had to give this one a try.
- Sunset – Sweet white blend with peach flavor – Bushmaster couldn’t pass this one up.
- Dolce Bianco – Another sweet white blend, this wine was described as fragrant orange blossom and we found it to be quite nice.
- Cabernet -Dry, but not as bold as we had hoped for a traditional red.
- Syrah – I enjoyed the spicy notes from this full bodied red. It was my favorite of this tasting.
- Merlot – A very dry Merlot with lots of tannins.
- Sangiovese – Another dry red done in a Chianti style.
- Frontenac Port – We had hoped for more from this port, but it came off to us as harsh with not enough port flavor. Something was off about this as if perhaps it had not been sweetened enough or perhaps not aged long enough.
They were getting set up for an evening of entertainment and brought in a food vendor with tasty offerings. We opted for dinner here and I enjoyed a gyro wrap while Bushmaster dined on ribs.
The temperature was perfect as evening approached and the patio began to fill up. We regretted that we couldn’t stay longer, but there was still one more winery we needed to visit.
On the way out we stopped to take photos of the grapes on the vines and sample a grape or two. There’s just nothing like wine grapes fresh off the vine!
Barrel Run Crossing in its name and its wines seemed to have a railroad theme going on.
The property was located next to the train tracks and sure enough, while we were there, a train came barreling through.
The had a huge picnic area with plenty of room for the Classy Canines who made themselves at home at one of the picnic tables.
You could pick your choice of 5 wines to sample in a flight.
Which were delivered on a small natural wood serving flight board complete with a wine glass so you didn’t have to taste from plastic.
As per our usual plan, Bushmaster and I made different selections and then shared so that we could each sample 10 different wines.
- Engine Number 5 – Red blend of Ohio grapes – Marquette, Frontenac, Barbera, Corot Noir – Before finding out the grapes used to create this blend, I thought it might have some Chambourcin in it.
- BRX – Dry red blend with Merlot
- Mahoning River Red – Red blend of Frontenac, Niagara, and Riesling – An interesting blend, the Niagara provided the tartness.
- 765 Red blend of Marquette and Raspberry – This was a very nice blend.
- Golden Spike – White blend of Frontenac Gris and Peach – Bushmaster was disappointed that there wasn’t more peach flavor, but with my recent burn out on peach, I was relieved.
- Cattle Dog – Dry blend of several Ohio apple varieties
- Sat B Sider – Dry apple and cranberry blend – A clever name and a wine with an interesting earthiness.
- Up A Creek – Semi-dry apple and cherry blend – This one was mostly apple in flavor with just a hint of cherry.
- Traminette – Lots of nose, but tasted watered down to us.
- Tipsy Conductor – Frontenac Gris
While the Classy Canines could not take part in the wine, they of course, were part of the conversation. And photos!
This winery in Canton, Ohio was a last minute find from the listing in Sip magazine. What a treasure! It tops our list of the Ohio wineries we visited on The Classy Canine Road Trip.
Virg Slutz (pronounced slootz) has been making wine for years. His technique is a bit different from other wineries and delivers fantastic results. He preserves and ages his wines by replacing the oxygen in the tanks with argon or nitrogen. Oxygen is what ages wine so with its absence, Virg is able to age his wines, even the whites, for years before bottling. He typically ages them four years before bottling although he has some that were aged 10 or more years. His wines are also low in sulfites as a result of this process.
We were treated to a wonderful tasting of fantastic wines and great conversation. We happily sampled the following:
- Zinfandel – A beautiful dry red with spice notes.
- Chambourcin – 14 years old, we found this wine to be dry and smooth with a fruity flavor.
- Pinot Noir – Aged for 2 years, this wine was smooth and delicious.
- Syrah – Virg’s 16-17 years old Syrah was rich and full of fruit with a high alcohol content.
- Dry Niagara – A white wine aged for 10 years is pretty unheard of. This version was done dry and had fantastic flavor.
- White Zinfandel – Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve never been a fan of White Zins, but when I saw this wine I had to give it a try. A deep rose in color, it was a definite departure from the norm. It was full of flavor with a slight portish quality. We bought 3 bottles!
- Concord – Similar to the Dry Niagara, the Concord was also aged for 10 years. It had great flavor and was not overly sweet.
- Sweet Niagara – This wine was an excellent representation of one of the wines this area is known for.
- Bing Cherry – Another unusual surprise, Virg wouldn’t tell us what we were drinking and made us guess. Much to his delight we both got it wrong thinking it was a red wine. It was unbelievable how this technically sweet cherry came off as a dry red. We can’t wait to fool our friends with this one!
- Apple Cider – This fantastic creation was made from apple juice with spice notes. Fortified with moonshine, it will definitely sneak up on you.
The Classy Canines were quite content to chill out on the cool cement floor of the tasting room while we sampled and visited.
Slutz & Slutz Winery will be a definite stop anytime we are in the area. We came away with six bottles. Remember that White Zinfandel? Just look at the color! Bushmaster is still teasing me about buying 3 bottles.
The minute I saw this winery I was in love. There’s just something about the charm of an old school house.
Each of their wines were named with that school house image in mind. I stayed outside with the Classy Canines in the large covered pavilion while Bushmaster obtained samples for us to try:
- Pep Rally – Red blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon – This was a Chianti style dry red.
- Bully Red – Chambourcin – We were surprised by how fruity this was, but it was missing that earthy Chambourcin flavor I look for.
- Prom Night – Dry red
- Ruslin Hills White – White blend of Delaware and Niagara – This was a new blend for us and quite nice. The Niagara was more prominent.
- Class Clown – Pink Catawba – This was light and refreshing and a great choice for a summer wine.
- Teacher’s Ade – Lemon – Very tart and tasty, we love trying the unusual wines.
- Cross Your Tees – Black tea – Another unusual wine which I had to try since making my own tea wine. It was light and sweet with a definite tea flavor.
It was lunchtime when we were there so we selected the Chicken, Cheese and Garlic Pizza from their menu. It came with tons of cheese and a sprinkling of of basil. The crust was perfect. It was so delicious!
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the shade with a nice breeze while the Classy Canines hovered about waiting for “pizza bones” (crusts).
When we weren’t looking, Brody thought he might go adventuring on his own and somehow managed to slip his harness. We retrieved him before he wandered very far.
School House Winery had a wonderful outside area with not only the pavilion, but a patio, as well as a covered stage with outdoor picnic seating. Their event calendar is full with weekly entertainment and activities. What a fun stop!
Not on our original itinerary, Silver Moon Winery was nearby to Breitenbach Cellars and the Swiss Heritage winery. We had eliminated them after calling ahead when they didn’t seem very receptive to the idea of a visit from the Classy Canines. We were literally passing them as we headed to our next stop so we decided to swing in and see what our options were. It was still morning with pleasant temperatures and we could park right next to the patio and keep the dogs in view at all times.
Bushmaster went in to check things out. As it turned out, they were fine with us having the dogs with us on the patio and very accommodating as Bushmaster ran back and forth to get our samples. At first the Classy Canines were a bit concerned about his momentary disappearance.
It was a beautiful morning and the breeze on the patio was quite lovely. Peanut made himself at home hoping perhaps he might be served a special treat.
We each did a separate tasting but shared our samples so we could taste as many of their wines as possible. Our coordinated picks included:
- Siciliano Red – Nebbiolo
- Merlot – Again, another good Merlot. I found this to be the best of the reds.
- Zinfandel – This one was a bit too raisiny for me.
- Blood of Zeus – Sangiovese
- Luna Rossa – Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
- Magnificco Italiano – Montepulciano
- Traminette – One of my go to whites, this one seemed watered down and had a bit too much acid for my palate.
- Cayuga White – Sourced from local grapes, it was nice to get a taste of one of the grapes we had come for.
- Symphony – This delicate white had a light floral nose and seemed to be like a lighter version of a good Traminette. We found this to be the best of the whites.
- Luna Bianca – Oaked Chardonnay – More to my liking than Bushmaster’s, this wine was buttery with wood on the nose. It also had a surprising sweet flavor.
- Diamond – Another local grape we were interested in and very well done.
- Kiwi Pear – I enjoyed the spice notes, but it was lacking in the fruit and was too similar to sugar water.
- Razzle Dazzle – Watermelon Blush – This one reminded me of a Jolly Rancher or a Sweet Tart. Once again, too similar to sugar water.
- Northern Nights – Riesling Ice Wine – Being partial to the grapes, we were disappointed that this one didn’t have more flavor. Typical of an ice wine, it was sweet and syrupy.
- Fire & Ice – Riesling and Cabernet Franc Ice Wine – The berry flavor from the Cabernet Franc was much more distinctive in this wine and our preference of the ice wines.
After we finished our tasting, Bushmaster went inside to settle our tab. The Classy Canines watched to make sure it all went well.
We were very glad we hadn’t missed out on Silver Moon. While the reds were not to our liking, we felt that they did a nice job with the whites. We have found there can sometimes be a huge difference in wines crafted from local fruit rather than sourced from far away locations. Our favorites were the locally sourced Symphony and Diamond.
Our first stop was supposed to be Swiss Heritage Winery in side Broad Run Cheesehouse. We were excited about the opportunity to purchase some cheeses to snack on as we traveled to the various wineries on our itinerary. We were also happy to learn that they were a dog friendly facility.
As we made our way to our destination, we discovered that they were in very close proximity to Breitenbach Wine Cellars We had seen Breitenbach wines at Jungle Jim’s but didn’t realize that they were so close to our first stop.
Upon arriving at Swiss Heritage Winery, we discovered that a large tourist bus arrived before we did. Bushmaster went inside to check things out and reported back that they were too crowded and set up more like a gift shop. He couldn’t see how they could accommodate our Classy Canines. And then to top it off, their bathrooms out of order. We had driven for hours so that was not the news we wanted to hear.
Luckily Breitenbach Wine Cellars was so close that it was within walking distance. A few of the people from the tourist bus had begun to leave Swiss Heritage Winery and were making their way to Breitenbach. Before Breitenbach got too crowded we decided we would go there to use the facilities and have our first wine tasting. Although Bushmaster went in to check on things first and had been told the dogs could be on the grounds, we soon saw signs to the contrary. We were going to have to leave the dogs in the car. It was still cool enough out that this wasn’t an issue but we still felt the need to make sure they were okay.
Time for a speed tasting! We quickly sampled the following:
- Green Shoes – Proprietary Cab Blend – This was a bit too sweet as to what we’ve come to expect from Cabernet.
- Festival – Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec – We had high hopes for this one, but to us it came off as bitter.
- Merlot – Not typically my varietal, I was surprised to find this one turned out to be my favorite.
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Red Raspberry – This fruit wine was light and refreshing.
- Elderberry – There’s just something about Elderberry that we always have to try Elderberry. This one was very sweet and syrupy.
- Black Raspberry
- Plum – This sweet version had spice notes very similar to our own Plum Dry wine.
- Dandelion – I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to taste Dandelion wine. It had an unusual flavor that made it intriguing to me. Bushmaster didn’t care for it at all.
- Tawny Port – This was a nice port with good flavor.
Their wine list was much more extensive but with the Classy Canines in the car, we didn’t feel that we were able to devote any more time here. Breitenbach had a nice little gift shop with food and other items that I would have liked to have been able to explore. The grounds were beautiful and this particular day they were gearing up for a day of festivities with picnic options and music. They also offer tours of their large wine making facilities.
It was harvest time and we had a special invite from Jerry Chessman to see his vineyards! We plotted and planned our way to Pennsylvania. This time we would be bringing the Classy Canines with us!
The boys were loaded into the car before the sun was up. Brody and Snickerdoodle settled into comfy spots in the back seat on their special blankies.
As the sun came up, Peanut was very interested to see what excitement this new adventure had in store for him.
Then he took it upon himself to guard the cooler. I’m guessing he knew there were roast beef sandwiches and hard boiled eggs in there!
You know what they say about the best laid plans. Our first winery stop quickly revealed a change in itinerary. A large tour bus had arrived just ahead of us and the place was packed. Along with their restrooms being out of order. So we headed down the road to another winery, but the Classy Canines could not be allowed out of the car.
Our third stop at a winery we had crossed off our original list. They had some good wines and the Classy Canines were allowed on the patio. We learned from the owner that just like our previous stops, we were likely to find that even though the wineries we had called ahead who said they were “Dog Friendly”, most likely would not be.
That turned out to be pretty accurate. Fortunately we found that most facilities had patios or outdoor areas where the boys were welcome.
Of course we had to take pictures with them to record their road trip.
Our winery stops for the day included:
- Breitenbach Wine Cellars
- Silver Moon Winery
- School House Winery
- Slutz & Slutz Winery
- Barrel Run Crossing Winery & Vineyard
- Mastropietro Winery
- LaPorte Winery
We will be featuring each winery and its wines in the next series of posts so be sure to check back.
After seven wineries, the boys were all tuckered out!
But they quickly adjusted to their luxurious hotel accomodations.
And had no trouble settling in on the large king size bed.
The next morning they were ready to roll.
Once again, our plans shifted around a bit but it was all good. We made our first stop at the country market. Then it was off to another winery, which according to the owners, was run by their Irish Setter. Peanut and Brody made friends quickly with Cabernet.
And the ladies who arrived after us on a tour.
They were such gentlemen and so well behaved. But of course! They are the Classy Canines!
At the next three wineries, the boys were again welcomed inside and loved all the attention they received.
The wineries we visited included:
- Burch Farms Winery
- Lakeview Wine Cellars
- Heritage Wine Cellars
- Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards
- Courtyard Winery
When Bushmaster took the purchases we made at the last winery to the car, they were a bit concerned he might be leaving without us.
Their concerns were unwarranted as we all piled back in the car ready to find somewhere to have dinner.
We didn’t have to look too hard or too far to find delicious Lake Erie perch dinners.
It was just about dusk when we made our way to Jerry Chessman’s vineyard. We visited a short time with him, his family, and friends. Harvesting is pretty much a round the clock operation this time of year and all the vineyards work together to help each other out. We made it an early night and headed to our hotel so we could be back at the vineyard bright and early the next morning.
We got there early to see that harvesting activities were already underway. The smell of fresh grapes wafted through the air.
The Classy Canines were loaded into the back of the Gator and we were off for a special tour of the vineyard.
They really seemed to enjoy the ride!
We had seen the miles and miles of vineyards from the road during our travels the previous day but it was really amazing to be up close in amongst the vines.
Noiret grapes hung in huge clusters.
The dark area just above the distant tree line was Lake Erie. Vines stretched all the way to that tree line.
Concord grapes were large, full, and oh so juicy. They hung everywhere on the vines.
It took us nearly an hour to complete our vineyard tour. It was just beautiful!
We were invited out to do some picking of our own. Bushmaster came back with buckets of Noiret and Concord that we are currently making into a blend that will be called Brody’s Road Trip Red.
Time flew by and soon it was time to pick up Diamond and Niagara juices and begin our trip home. We made one last winery stop on the way:
- Presque Isle Wine Cellars
We had hoped to find another perch dinner as we traveled along the lake but unfortunately there was none to be found.
Even with all the delays from rush hour traffic, we made it to Grandpa’s Cheese Barn before closing time and picked up some special goodies.
Peanut again guarded the cooler knowing full well there were some tasty cheeses inside.
What a great trip! We look forward to returning to Lake Erie Wine Country again. A huge thank you to Jerry and crew for making our trip so special!