Southeast Ohio Winery Reviews
Al-Bi Winery - I'm still unsure of the meaning behind the name of this Dellroy, Ohio winery. I meant to ask while I was there, but it completely slipped my mind while we were sampling their large variety of wines. Regardless...my befuddlement doesn't take away from the pleasant experience that we had at this newer Ohio winery. With a beautiful location beside Atwood Lake, a selection to please everyone, and a welcoming environment, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
As we neared the winery, we came to a large sign reading "Road Closed". I knew we were very close, so I told Gary to go around the sign so we could see how far we could go. We soon found the reason for the sign. We were on the road that goes straight across Atwood Lake, and with recent flooding in the area, the road was covered with water. We pulled into a gravel parking lot to turn around...but I looked up and saw the winery sign and exclaimed "We're here". Luckily, the last pull-off before the flooded road was Al-Bi Winery, which is situated directly on the shore of Atwood Lake.
We walked in the door of the small building (a former bait shop, but you'd never know it) and were greeted by the very friendly gentleman behind the counter. We were the only patrons that morning and had our selection of seats. We sat down in the tall chairs at the tasting counter and our host immediately poured us a sample. He said it was his best selling wine, which was a blend of concord and something else...and he asked us to guess what that "something else" was. We both knew it was a familiar taste, but couldn't quite make it out. This familiar taste turned out to be watermelon. Al-Bi produces many fruit wines, and even makes a straight watermelon wine. Gary enjoyed the concord-watermelon blend that we were sampling so well that he ended up purchasing a bottle to take home.
We tasted many selections from the wide variety of wines offered while enjoying friendly conversation with our host. One of my favorites was their sweeter Vidal Blanc. I'm much more of a red wine drinker, but I found their Vidal very flavorful and refreshing. It's also a medal winner from the Indiana State Fair. I actually found all of the wines I sampled to be very flavorful. For a young winery producing so many types of wine, I could tell they have found a way to give special attention to each individual variety.
We were having a wonderful time talking with our host and sampling wine in their charming tasting room...complete with large windows allowing plenty of sun and a nice lake view. Before we knew it, time had completely slipped away from us and we were half-an-hour behind schedule. We needed to quickly make our purchases and head to our next stop.
Al-Bi is a charming winery with a lot to offer. Though it's main focus seems to be on fruit wines, there are still several grape wines offered for visitors with a grape wine preference. Our host (who was one of the co-owners) was very friendly and inviting. He seemed to really love what he is doing...and that makes all the difference in the world...because it shows in the wines. Favorite: Vidal Blanc.
Flint Ridge Vineyards - A trip to this winery in Hopewell, Ohio is certainly an adventure. It had poured down rain all morning and the several miles of dirt and gravel roads that led to this charming winery did quite a number on our car. We really don't mind this though, and have even come to expect it. Some of the nicest wineries are out in the middle of nowhere. (Gary has made a few comments that I shouldn't have let him trade in his Durango on a new Mustang - That Mustang has seen some pretty rough terrain on our wine travels).
When we arrived at Flint Ridge we were immediately greeted by the winemaker. He took us inside and hosted a private wine tasting for us. He was very pleasant and was very proud of his wine. He took plenty of time with us answering all of our questions. Before we left we spent some time looking at the interesting artwork offered for sale at this winery by a local artist...then we bought a couple of bottles of wine to take home.
Flint Ridge is a newer winery and I certainly see good things happening here as they get more established. Flint Ridge is a unique winery experience that you shouldn't miss. Favorite: Red Tail.
Georgetown Vineyards - We visited this winery in Cambridge, Ohio on a warm, sunny afternoon. We were the only patrons there and we were greeted by a younger gentleman (I believe it was the winemaker's son). We browsed through their wine gifts and accessories for awhile and then he gave us a private wine tasting. He was kind of quiet at first...but once he got comfortable with us he started telling us about the history of the winery and how they make their wine.
Georgetown Vineyards sits high on a hillside. The view was gorgeous and we couldn't resist purchasing a bottle of wine to drink while we were there. They had a very nice area outside with picnic tables and chairs where they host cookouts. We ventured a little farther out and sat in some captain's chairs that were set-up on the hillside. We had a view of the vineyards and the city of Cambridge below. We even watched as several deer would stroll by (we had already been told that deer had been a problem in the vineyard). When we finished our bottle we went back inside and purchased a bottle to take home.
This winery had a nice selection of wine and a beautiful view from their hill-top location. Georgetown Vineyards is certainly worth a visit when traveling in the Cambridge area. Favorite: Lake Erie Concord.
Marietta Wine Cellars - This boutique winery is located in downtown Marietta, Ohio. When we arrived we decided to browse through the gift shop first. It has one of the largest gift shops I've seen at any winery. They had a wide variety of items...but the best thing was their unique assortment of wine racks. This winery had every style...small....large...floor...ceiling. They also offered home wine making supplies.
When we were done in the gift shop we ventured into the small tasting area. The owner hosted a private wine tasting for us and took plenty of time to tell us about his wines, which he makes on-site. He had a wide variety available and there were several that we enjoyed very much.
Marietta Wine Cellars is situated inside a small indoor mall type complex. The only seating was a small area that looked out toward some of the other shops. We decided not to stay and enjoy a glass, but we did buy a couple of bottles to take home. This unique winery has a nice selection of wine and is certainly worth a visit if you are in the Marietta area...especially if you are in the market for a wine rack. **Note: I have been told that this winery has moved to a new location since we visited.
Merry Family Winery - For the first time ever, we had to reschedule our trip to this Gallipolis, Ohio winery because we didn't make it before closing time. Thank goodness they were not too far away and we were able to reschedule a visit to their winery just a few weeks later. Since it was the only winery on the agenda and they were only an hour away from our hometown, we took the opportunity for a Saturday day trip. We took my son along and also stopped at the Bob Evans Farm Museum.
We arrived late in the afternoon and I was quite impressed with the scenery. The tasting room sits on top of a hill with picturesque rolling vineyards all the way down. Just beyond the deck and rear patio, a nice wooded area was behind the tasting room. There was seating on the deck and patio, and I also noticed a hammock hanging between two trees. Even though the winery isn't far from the highway...everything was so peaceful up on the hill. The friendly little winery dog also greeted us at the door wagging his tail as we entered the building. My son had found a friend, and he stayed outside to play with the dog while we did some wine tasting.
We took a seat at one of the tables in the main room and we were given a wine list to look over. The winery produces a long list of red, white and fruit wines...far too many to sample all of them. I decided to sample some varieties that I normally enjoy, as well as a few unique blends. I found most of the wines very mild in flavor. As much wine as I drink I tend to look for wines slightly more complex. Most everything was very easy-drinking...perfect for occasional wine drinkers, those new to wine tasting and for the tourists that would stop by after seeing one of their billboards along the highway.
There is enough of a variety that everyone (even experienced wine drinkers) can find something they enjoy. I did choose a nice white to order a glass of so that we could sit outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I see that Merry Family Winery has moved to a new nearby location in Bidwell, Ohio since our visit. I hope to stop by again next time we are passing through that area. It seems that they now have a much larger tasting room...I hope the new scenery is just a beautiful.
Rainbow Hills Vineyards - As we were driving down the long, gravel road to Rainbow Hills, I was thinking one thing - "There couldn't possibly be a winery back here" - but I was wrong. Eventually the road opened up to rolling vineyards and a charming winery. Located in Newcomerstown, Ohio, Rainbow Hills Vineyards is the most secluded winery we have visited yet.
This particular evening, we had reservations at the winery for a steak cook-out. We walked inside and a woman treated us to a tasting of their small selection of wines so that we could pick out a bottle for dinner. After we chose a bottle, she escorted us outside to find a seat. There were plenty places to choose from along their expansive decking. There were only two other couples there that night so we were able to find a private spot near a fountain. The woman told us that they had 150 people for dinner the night before (I wondered how that many people managed to get up and down that narrow road at the same time). She provided us with a couple of steaks so that we could start grilling them...and she went inside to tend to the rest of our meal.
We had a delicious steak dinner ...and the beautiful setting was so serene we stayed for a long while and relaxed. I certainly recommend a stop at Rainbow Hills to experience a unique winery adventure.
Raven's Glenn Winery - WOW! Normally I go for the smaller, boutique wineries because I have always felt that's where you get a most personalized experience. This West Lafayette, Ohio winery has proven to me that you can situate a tasting room on a well-traveled highway for tourist traffic, become one of the state's leading wine producers...yet still offer a personalized experience. We had a warm, fuzzy feeling after our visit to Raven's Glenn, and you're about to find out why.
Gary and I visited this winery a few years ago - shortly after they had opened. I don't think we gave them enough time to get their footing before we stopped by, so we decided it was time for a return visit. I wasn't sure what to expect on our return - but I certainly didn't expect the dramatic changes that had taken place since the first time we had been there. The tasting room was much more welcoming, the staff was very attentive and the tastings had a more personal touch.
I was impressed from the moment we walked in the door - it looked nothing like I remembered. The wide-open, almost "warehouse looking" tasting room that I was expecting had been transformed into a welcoming environment. What I saw now was soft lighting and dark wood accents. A divider had been added between the gift shop area and wine barrel tables so there was more privacy for those wanting to enjoy a glass of wine. I felt like I was in an entirely different tasting room...and I was liking it.
A woman, who was stocking the wine racks in the retail area, welcomed us to Raven's Glenn. We chatted with her for a minute or two asking her questions about the renovations. We then strolled through the gift shop area for a few moments, where I found a t-shirt I thought my son would like. Gary also picked out a Christmas ornament for his sister. We then walked over to the tasting counter where we found that the woman we were chatting with earlier was also going to serve as our tasting hostess.
Our hostess explained their tasting procedure to us. We could choose from three flights: Dry, semi-sweet or a sweeter flight with fruit and dessert wines. There was a $2.00 charge for each flight ordered, but the glass was ours to keep. Both of us chose the semi-sweet flight, which consisted of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Vidal Blanc (which they were sold out of), White Merlot, White Zinfandel, White Raven and Raven Rouge. My three favorites of the bunch were the Gewurztraminer (citrusy and spicy), White Merlot (an outstanding wine - very smooth), and the White Zinfandel (sweet with hints of strawberry). After our flight we were told that everyone is treated to a sample of the Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. I found it to be one of the best Ohio ice wines I have come across. It was described to us as "grapefruit dipped in honey", and that description was right on the mark.
I wanted to stay for awhile and enjoy our inviting surroundings, so I ordered a glass of the White Merlot. It was my favorite from everything I had sampled and I found myself immediately wanting more. Gary must have liked it too, because he ordered a glass of the same thing. Our hostess poured our wine and told us we could just pay for everything all together before we left. We told her we would grab a seat at the wine barrel tables and she offered to send a server over if we wanted something to eat. We declined the food and went to find a quiet spot to sit a spell. As we were enjoying our wine, I could see out a side door where there was a nice seating area outside by the river. It was a little too nippy to go outdoors, but it would be a great place to sip wine during warmer weather. Just as we were finishing our wine, I had to smile as three ladies approached the tables with a newly acquired bottle of ice wine. They seemed thrilled with their discovery and I predicted that three new wine enthusiasts had just been born at Raven's Glenn.
From the moment we walked in, we were made to feel like we were special guests (and they did not know who we were). I watched the staff and they had a way of making every visitor feel important. It's difficult for a larger winery to achieve this, but Raven's Glenn has done just that. Their tasting room is now so inviting, that you won't want to leave. Not to mention the wines....they have always been top-notch from the day they opened. They also have a full-service Italian restaurant on-site, so you could easily make an entire afternoon out of a visit to Raven's Glenn. Favorite: White Merlot.
Terra Cotta Vineyards - Plump clusters of grapes hanging from the vines greeted us as we pulled off the road to this New Concord, Ohio winery. Surrounded by vineyards, this charming winery is located on a peaceful country lane. We entered the tasting room and were met by two ladies that kept us quite entertained during the tasting process. I was very impressed with them. They immediately pulled us in and made us feel right at home. The ladies poured several samples for us while discussing their vineyard and asking about our travels.
They had many delicious wines and we asked to purchase a couple of glasses of a sweet white dessert wine. They insisted that buying a bottle was more cost-effective. We told them a bottle would be too much for us to consume at that point of the day. They told us we could purchase a bottle...they would pour two glasses out of it...then they would re-cork and seal it for us so we could take the rest with us. No other winery has ever offered to do this. We were very pleased and took them up on their offer. Gary and I took our glasses out on the back deck and enjoyed the countryside view while sipping our wine.
When we were through browsing the gift items we approached the counter to purchase wine to take home. They had our re-sealed bottle waiting for us and we purchased several others. Our visit to Terra Cotta Vineyards was a very pleasant stop on our journey. I think this beautiful winery has much promise. Favorites: Concord and Terra White.
Revisit: We were traveling through the area again and thought we would stop by Terra Cotta for another tasting. It had been a couple of years since our first visit and we thought it was about time. On this visit we sampled through all of their wines...except for two they were temporarily sold-out of. I did find a new wine that I liked very much: Chambourcin Rose' - a perfectly refreshing medium-dry wine. I liked it so much, that I ordered a bottle for us to drink while we were there. We found a cozy corner in their tasting room and took root for a little while - watching fellow wine drinkers drift in and out. Favorite: Chambourcin Rose'.