The Grapevine

A Delightful Afternoon at Manchester Hill Winery

Manchester HillNow that the wineries are opening again in Ohio after a long statewide quarantine, I was eager to get out of the house to do a little wine tasting. I decided to take an afternoon and make a trip to Manchester Hill Winery in Circleville, Ohio. Although it has a Circleville address, it is actually right beside the town of Tarlton, OH. I had visited this winery a few years ago when they were in the beginning stages of reopening under new ownership. At that time they only had a small selection of wines and I was anxious to see what changes had taken place since my initial visit.

The winery is easy to spot with an OPEN flag flying and a sign beckoning visitors with Peach Slushies on this very warm day. There were several cars in the parking lot for a Wednesday afternoon, which was nice to see. I guess others like me were anxious to get out of the house and out in the world again. The winery dog, Poe, greeted us upon our arrival and walked us to the tasting room door. Once we entered we were immediately greeted by a friendly (masked) woman who invited us to take a seat at any of the available tables, which were spaced for social distancing. She brought us menus so we could look over their list of wines and ciders available for sampling. There were two hard ciders on the list, as well as eight wines ranging from dry to sweet. Tasting flights consist of six samples, so I chose both the ciders, plus a Chardonnay, Chambourcin, House Red and Blackberry.

My six samples:

Gold Rush: This is a hard apple cider made with GoldRush apples from an Ohio orchard. Unfortunately they had just blown the keg so I only received a very small, concentrated taste. I did like the flavor, but it was thick and had no effervescence. This is one I will have to try to get a sample of again next time I visit.

Peach: My second cider sample was much better. The peach hard cider is made with a mixture of peaches and GoldRush apples. This one was slightly bubbly and tasted like summertime in a glass. Whether you are a dry wine drinker like me, or you prefer the sweeter varieties – I think just about anyone would enjoy a glass of this peach cider while relaxing outdoors on a warm day.

Restraint: The next sample I selected was their award-winning Restraint. I found this unoaked Chardonnay crisp and refreshing and loved the slight note of honey that I tasted. This was one of my favorites from this tasting flight.

Chambourcin: This wine had a very fruity nose. From the aroma I would have thought this was a sweet wine, but this excellent dry red has 0% residual sugar. It is not aged in oak and finishes slightly tart.

House Red: My favorite of the day. This dry red is a blend of Merlot and Chambourcin. It’s a lighter-style wine that would pair well with pasta or pizza and had wonderful aromas of cherry and tobacco.

Blackberry: My last sample was the only fruit wine offering at Manchester Hill. Even though the tasting sheet said it was very sweet (10.5% residual sugar) I didn’t find it overwhelmingly sweet myself. Made with locally-grown Circleville blackberries, this wine had a huge blackberry aroma, but the tart finish left this dry wine drinker wanting more.

Manchester Hill has a few more wines that I didn’t choose for my tasting flight including Opulent (an oaked Chardonnay), Pink Catawba and Niagara. They also offer a Wine Slushy, which contains no ice or mix, just frozen wine. No matter what kind of wine or cider you prefer, you’re sure to find something to your liking here.

After the tasting we decided to order a glass and sit out on the side porch for awhile. Even though the House Red was my favorite, I ordered a chilled glass of the Restraint Chardonnay since it was 85 degrees on this particular day. There are only a few tables outside, but there is a large lawn so you can bring your own chairs or a blanket. You’ll also find a huge Maple tree if you’re looking for some shade. Cheese and meat trays are also offered if you want to stay for awhile and would like a little something to go with your wine. In addition, Manchester Hill has a cabin on the property if you would like to turn your visit into a relaxing getaway.

Manchester Hill Winery
13160 Tarlton Rd,
Circleville, OH 43113

(845) 893-8724

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.

Winery Dogs & Cats

Charlottesville Area Winery Offers a Wonderful Experience

Putting all politics aside – I have to admit that I truly loved my visit to Trump Winery. Before visiting I figured it would be a very stuffy experience, but I was totally wrong. The property is set up in such a way that large groups and event guests have a separate entrance, while the tasting room itself is small and inviting. The tasting room staff makes you feel welcome as soon as you walk in the door and they take their time helping guests navigate their list of wines, helping each person decide which wines to try.

My favorite Trump wine is their Rosé. I love a good dry rosé in the summertime. I find it difficult to find one that actually has some flavor – most I find are very bland. This one is bursting with strawberry and citrus and is perfectly balanced. It’s one of the top rosé wines I found on my travels.

The tasting room features a beautiful patio in the back and also has an on-site restaurant. I was very pleasantly surprised by my visit to Trump Winery and it’s a “must visit” winery if you’re in the Charlottesville, Virginia area.

You can find out more about them at the Trump Winery Website.

 

 

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.

Discover more Indiana Wineries

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

Hawaii Wine

It may be hard to believe, but each and every state in the U.S. produces wine – even Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to try the wine of Hawaii, but figured I would probably never make it to a Hawaiian winery in person (but I can still dream). While shopping at a specialty store I came across this Maui Blanc Pineapple Wine produced at the Maui Wine winery, which  is made from 100% fresh pineapples. I was skeptical at first because I don’t care much for sweeter wines myself, but the bottle proclaimed that it was done in an off-dry style so I thought I would give it a try.

I brought it home and kept it in my wine refrigerator for three months. I kept meaning to open it but instead I found myself reaching past it for a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio on warm days. I finally decided to give it a try last night and I was pretty impressed. It really is off-dry, starts off as a crisp but smooth white wine, but then finishes with a fresh pineapple taste. This is one every wine lover should try…if only to say they did. (But it’s really good!!)

Maui Wine Website