Love the Reds at Hocking Hills Winery

It was a gorgeous fall day for a road trip to Logan, Ohio. It was an 80 degree Friday in October and it seemed like the perfect time to head to the Hocking Hills. After 18 holes of Putt Putt at Rempel’s Grove, lunch at The Olde Dutch Restaurant and shopping at the Logan Antique Mall, we decided to end our day with some tasting at the Hocking Hills Winery.

The parking lot was pretty full and I was a little worried that we would not be able to get a seat, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I was worried for nothing. As well as indoor seating, Hocking Hills Winery has plenty of outdoor seating and we were promptly seated on the covered patio. We looked over the menu which included wine flights (as well as wine by the glass and bottle), a selection of beers plus charcuterie boards for those looking for a bite to eat. My friend opted for a Great Lakes IPA and I went for a wine flight, which included my choice of eight different wines to sample. Following are my tasting notes of the eight wines I tasted:

Vidal Blanc – This estate-grown full-bodied wine was very dry with tropical fruit tones.

Sauvignon Blanc – My favorite white that I sampled. I found this wine very pleasing and crisp with floral tones and citrus. For those that prefer dry wine, this is a great warm weather sipper on the patio.

Whispering Falls Rosé – I found this dry rosé to be exceptionally tart with an interesting aroma.

Pinot Noir – I enjoyed this Pinot Noir with flavors of strawberry, cherry and I detected a hint of black pepper on the finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Tart yet smooth with a delightful dark chocolate aftertaste.

Malbec – This one is a 2020 winner from the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and I could certainly understand why. This was my favorite from those I tasted with a jammy mouth-feel, yet dry and crisp with a clove finish.

Petite Sirah – When you first smell this wine you might think it’s going to be sweet, but once you taste this luscious dry red you’ll fall in love with this smooth and velvety wine.

Sweet Chardonnay – I decided to finish with something sweet. I don’t often see Chardonnay done in a sweeter style, so I wanted to give this one a try. With hints of honey and lemon, this one was very light-bodied and would make a great summer patio wine.

After I finished my tasting flight I stayed to enjoy a glass of the Malbec and did some people watching. Everyone seemed to be having a great time drinking and enjoying wine with friends on the outdoor patio in a beautiful wooded setting. The wine slushies seemed to be a popular choice that day, which are offered in both peach and raspberry. I also noticed a fireplace on the patio, which would make the area nice and cozy on chilly days.

Before leaving I purchased five bottles from the eight wines I sampled to take home with me – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petite Sirah. I’m looking forward to popping them open in the coming months. If you would like to try the wine from Hocking Hills Winery yourself you can visit them at 30402 Freeman Road in Logan , Ohio or online at the Hocking Hills Winery Website.

California’s Mystic Hills Vineyard Wins Big

This just in: One of our members, Mystic Hills Vineyard in San Miguel, California has an award-winning Malbec. It has won Double Gold, Best in Class and 97 Points in the 2020 East Meets West Wine Competition. Congratulations Mystic Hills!

Do you want to give it a try? You can order this wine, as well as any of their other wines through their website: https://www.mystichillsvineyard.com/

 

Corot Noir is the Star at Naz Vineyard and Winery

I can’t think of anything better to do on a chilly afternoon than venturing out to a winery for some tasting. My destination for today was Naz Vineyard and Winery in Kingston, Ohio. Although officially known as Na zdravie, which means “cheers” in Slovak, locals have shortened the name to Naz. The land was once an alpaca farm, but is now a 10-acre vineyard and winery owned by Jack and Cindy Mergo. The winery, which opened its doors November 2017, produces several varieties of wine including an award-winning Traminette and Corot Noir.

We arrived in the late afternoon and took seats at the counter for a tasting. A tasting includes six wines, so I ordered a tray with their three driest wines (Red Wine, Corot Noir and Cabernet Franc) plus three sweeter varieties (Traminette, Soul Shine and Back to Black). As I worked my way through the tasting, I immediately found some personal favorites. The Corot Noir was my absolute favorite – so smooth and a bit more fruity than their driest wine (simply called Red Wine). It was perfect for sipping on its own, but I think it would also pair well with most red meats – but would be wonderful with red sauce pastas and pizza. I was also impressed with the Traminette. It’s always been one of my favorite grapes and what makes it great is that it can be produced anywhere from dry to very sweet. The Naz Traminette is somewhere in the middle, but leans a bit to the sweeter side. Sweet wine drinkers would love this wine, as well as dry wine drinkers that are looking for something a little lighter during the summer months. Although I am primarily a dry wine drinker I tend to want something with a touch of sweetness in warmer weather. After my tasting experience I could see why both the Traminette and Corot Noir are award-winners for this winery.

Naz Winery also produces a few more sweet wines, Native Naz and Niagara, and occasionally some fruit wines on a limited basis. For those that like something a little different, they even had two wine slushies available while I was there – one they were making with what is left of their Pear wine and another using their Niagara. I didn’t try a slushie, but I would have been tempted to do so if it had been warmer outside. I’ve been known to drink a wine slushie or two on a hot day.

For those wishing to stay for awhile to take in the atmosphere, there is plenty of indoor seating plus a covered patio and a deck outside overlooking the vineyard. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment many Friday and Saturday evenings. After your tasting you can stay to sip on your favorites by the glass or bottle. I personally stayed for a glass of Corot Noir and purchased a few bottles to take home with me.

An expansion is currently underway and visitors will soon be able to enjoy fresh made pizzas from their new pizza oven. In addition to pizza, Naz Winery will not only be serving their estate-grown wines, but will soon be offering beer and other drink selections as well. More space for events is being added and I hear that Sunday sales in also in the works.

Naz Vineyard and Winery is located at 13414 Marietta Road in Kingston, Ohio. Although they don’t have an official website, you can use this link to follow them on their Facebook Page.

McManis Family Vineyards Petit Verdot

I haven’t pulled a bottle from my wine rack in awhile, but decided to open a bottle that I have been holding on to for a little while. My choice was 2015 Petit Verdot from California’s McManis Family Vineyards. I never see a Petit Verdot on the shelves at local grocery stores, so it’s been awhile since I have been able to enjoy one. This wine won a Double Gold in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and I was eager to give it a try myself.

The Petit Verdot grape is known for its depth of color and has a tradition of being used as a blending grape in French Bordeaux blends. According to the Mcmanis Family Vineyards website, they generally harvest their Petit Verdot in September with an average Brix of 25.5. After 7-9 days of fermentation on the skins, the resulting wine is pressed and finished fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged on new and used French and American Oak for 5 months.

This wine was a rich, deep purple in the glass and I could detect berries and coffee on the nose. Once I tasted it I found it to be jammy, smokey and an absolute delight to the palate. Although I paired it with dark chocolate covered almonds, I would highly recommend it as an accompaniment to grilled steak or spicy barbecued meats.

A Taste of Indiana – Oliver Dry Red Blend

A hidden gem on the grocery store shelf – Oliver Dry Red Blend. When I’m browsing the wine aisle in my local grocery store, it’s mostly an assortment of west coast wines, imports and a wide variety of boxed wine to choose from. There is only a very small assortment of eastern U.S. wines, but mostly just sweeter varieties such as Concord, Moscato, Catawba and various fruit wines. I am sure they are distributing these sweet wines to local retailers because they are probably their best sellers – so in turn they probably produce more of these than the dry varieties. My local grocery does offer a few wines from Bloomington Indiana’s Oliver Winery. Usually the Soft Red, Soft White and Camelot Mead which are all too sweet for my personal taste.

Imagine my surprise when one day I came across an Oliver Dry Red Blend. I finally uncorked this wine last night to give it a try. It’s foundation is Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah which gives it a bold distinction. My guess is that it is close to a 50/50 blend, because I could certainly detect the Syrah. Although I enjoyed a glass on its own at the end of the day, this selection is probably paired best with a steak or grilled meats. This rich wine with hints of currant and spice has a lasting finish and is perfect for those that prefer bold, dry reds.

Are you ready to taste this wine for yourself? You can get all the information about visiting  on the Oliver Winery and Vineyards website.

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Michigan’s Leelanau Cellars Witches Brew

I live in southern Ohio and I was quite suprised to find this wine in my local liquor store. Even though it’s still August I couldn’t resist picking of a bottle of this Autumn-themed wine from Michigan’s Leelanau Cellars. This red with cinnamon and cloves is probably best served warm, but I decided to take my chances and chill it – opening it up on an evening when it was still 80 degrees outside. I actually found it quite delightful served cold. The spices gave it a touch of sweetness, and the colder temperature of the wine didn’t let the cinnamon and clove become overpowering. It was a great departure from the crisp whites I’ve been drinking most of the summer. I could even see this wine combined with some fruit and ginger ale to make a summer sangria.

Still…I’m sure this wine was initially meant to be served warm and is probably at its very best when served that way. If you’re hosting a fall get-together this wine would be perfect to serve ladled from a crock pot. Even though I enjoyed it very much chilled, I think I am going to pick up another bottle for a cool fall evening.

You can read more about this wine and order it from the Leelanau Cellars website: www.lwc.wine