Racks of obsidian and golden bottles line the monolithic wine wall of Camelot Cellars's rustic boutique, bringing together varietals crafted by the winery and selections from around the world. Beneath chandeliers and brick facades, guests clink glasses of aromatic vintages and play favorite xylophone songs on themed tasting flights served atop the smooth contours of the locally hewn wooded bar. Small plates of cheeses, meats, and bread also gather nearby, cleansing palates and bringing out the wine’s subtler tones. Nearby, the convivial sound of good cheer emanated from the Tuscan Table and the private Tuscan Room, which house large groups and may be rented out for gatherings.
Not satisfied to fill their casks with only their own brews, the winery also aids clients in handcrafting their own artisan wines. With the help of a resident expert, prospective vintners assemble their preferred style of wine, leaving it in the capable hands of the winery for 6–12 weeks. Each bottle is then identified with a custom label, making perfect keepsakes for weddings, parties, or obedience-school graduations.
Though it isn?t a matchmaking service, Grovewood Tavern is responsible for more than 150 successful relationships in the past decade, all of which were realized over dinner. The brick-enclosed restaurant specializes in the delicious puppy love between food and drink, hosting meals that pair fine wines, beers, and spirits with bites from a globally conscious kitchen. The courses encourage guests to savor combinations in the moment, but also nod to the history inside the glassware. Trivia and origin stories accompany the drinks, detailing their flavors and the favorable reviews they've received. Some dinners benefit from presentation by expert hosts, including vineyard aficionados and people who know how the ghosts are added to each bottle of spirits.
Outside of these showcases, visitors can still enjoy selections from the tavern's regular menu. Duck-burger sliders and spice-rubbed ahi-tuna sandwiches dispel any worries about stereotypical pub fare, and the entrees' emphasis on local and organic ingredients adds a refreshing ease of conscience to each bite. Grovewood?s catalog of savory meats ranges from Japanese-style barbecued chicken to the bison pot roast, which, according to a 2007 feature in the Plain Dealer, "falls gloriously apart, upon gentle forkage." Chefs accommodate vegetarians and vegans as well. A wealth of meat- and gluten-free options speckles the menu's pages, and the pairing dinners list substitutions for nonveggie helpings, replacing tea-smoked duck breast with grilled tofu and skirt steak with vegan beef.
For more than 19 years, Spirits of Madeira has been the toast of area wine cellars, filling glasses with savory arrays of wines from all over the globe. Seasoned sippers conduct each 2.5-hour tasting, expanding palates with the careful matchmaking of two red and two white wines accompanied by select cheeses. While paired spouses, friends, and former field-trip-bus buddies compare sauvignon blancs and other wines from various grape-growing regions, the knowledgeable staff will field questions and provide interesting wine tidbits so patrons can impress guests at dinner parties and one-up the food samplers in local grocery stores.
For more than 75 years, the Lacomini family has graced the local culinary landscape with a rich menu of traditional Italian recipes and an extensive selection of ambrosial wines and martinis. Defy conventional pasta physics with an appetizing antipasto such as crab-stuffed mushrooms ($6.95) or zucchini fretto sprinkled with parmesan cheese ($6.95) before pondering the complex tuscan béchamel strata of a baked rustic lasagna ($14.95). Delectable dishes such as the cashew-crusted trout ($22.95) or sautéed veal scaloppini ($21.95) complement a tabletop like a kiss seals a memo or a rose kisses Seal.
Some partnerships—Fred and Ginger, Holmes and Watson, Rocky and Bullwinkle—seem predestined for greatness. Such was the case with Jeff and Jill Van Horne. Jeff, a wine collector, married his talents with Jill's gourmet cooking to create The Wine Loft, where their chemistry translates into delicious food and drink pairings. Stepping inside is akin to joining one of their dinner parties, with fellow guests lounging on sofas throughout the space and ordering cocktails or beer from the full bar.
Of course, the starring libation is wine. The cellar below the restaurant can store close to 2,000 bottles at a steady 58 degrees. More than 200 wines arrive at tables by the bottle, and 75 can be poured by the glass, complementing a variety of small plates and entrees. If you aren't sure what libation would best bring out the flavor of your lamb lollipops, servers gladly assist—or, you could attend one of The Wine Loft's wine education classes. These meet monthly to cover topics such as matching wine with chocolate or observing proper wine etiquette, which dictates that whomever uncorks the bottle must plant the cork and raise the resultant tree.