Old Firehouse Winery ferments more than 20 full-flavored vinos along the glistening shores of Lake Erie. Diners can admire the dining room with its shelves of glossy wine bottles to the gently lapping lake. Visitors can opt to purchase sweet and dry wine tastings ($1 for two tasting trays), which each include 10 samples of single-grape and blended varietals. After sampling the full range of sweet and juicy concords to dry and full-bodied chambourcins, duos can imagine how each exquisite vintage would look inside their souvenir wine glasses and how advantageous the imprinted corkscrews would be during a close-range jousting match. In the warmer months, patrons can swill, sniff, and sip from a romantic lakeside overlook on the outdoor tasting patio and supplement the winery outing with a ride on a historic ferris wheel.
The family of vintners at The Grape and Granary have concocted vinos for years, and their ancillary enthusiasms for beer brewing and other DIY drinks have led to some one-of-a-kind grape distillates. The Grape and Granary’s specialty Jalapeno Pepper wine ($12.95) saunters across the palate's runway and leaves behind sweet and spicy smoke trails. This particular semi-dry white—sold only in Ohio by buckeye-flavored salesmen—pairs well with piquant cuisines and tabasco-flavored frozen yogurt. A jalapeño pepper luxuriates in every bottle. The Grape and Granary also culls dry wines from grapes born, raised, and mostly educated in California’s Central Valley such as the dry red 2009 Renaissance Wine Cellars merlot ($12.99), which boasts a light body with dry, fruity tones in hot pursuit.
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.
For four generations, the same family has tilled the soil beneath the grape vines that thrive at Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard. Originally used to grow grain, hay, soybeans, and wheat, the land saw its first vines in 2006, and grapes have been planted each subsequent year. Now totaling 10 acres, up to eight grape varietals flourish on the land. The result of these planting efforts is a host of handcrafted wines and ciders, including 2012 Ohio Wine Competition award winners Tipsy Conductor and Engine Number 5. All of Barrel Run Crossing’s wines are available for sampling in the spacious tasting room and for purchase by the thimble, glass, or bottle.
Carnage in the Corn at Maize Valley Market and Winery is a six-acre corn maze full of twists, turns, and frightful sensory escapades. A vast growth of corn sorghum, field corn, and forest paths create a seasonal labyrinth that will have your blood developing goose-bumps as you turn each corner in unknowing darkness. Carnage in the Corn employs no actors or gross-out techniques lifted from such horror films as Man, Blood, There's Blood, Man; the unknown nature of the maze and the darkness are all that it takes to strike terror in participants of this sprawling center of the spooky. The maze is designed for kids of all ages, within reason, as actual babies are likely to go feral if exposed to fresh air and cornstalks for more than a few minutes at a time.
Nestled among 100 acres of lush vineyards that have blossomed for more than 25 years, Mastronardi Estate Winery cultivates 18 different kinds of grapes that resident winemaker Lyse Leblanc transforms into a prize-winning slate of wine varietals. Lakes Erie and St. Clair sandwich the region, naturally maintaining a suitable vine-harvesting climate that yields the building blocks of sweet dessert wines, crisp whites, bold merlot-cabernet amalgams, and sparkling varietals. Visitors tap into a rainbow of elegant elixirs during tours, tastings, and seminars, decamping to the winery's European-inspired tasting boutique, where a knowledgeable staffer points out oft-overlooked subtleties, such as the pinot grigio’s hints of honeydew and longing. Mastronardi Estate Winery donates a portion of proceeds from the floral-inspired Brianjë riesling to the Batten Disease Support and Research Association in memory of the daughter of owners Eadie and Tony Mastronardi.