Travel just two and a half hours from Pittsburgh, and you’ll find yourself in a quaint lakeside town. Geneva-on-the-Lake is a tiny village in Ohio that sits right on the edge of Lake Erie. While the town might be small, the views of one of the five Great Lakes are impressive. Just a few minutes away, the more rural area of Geneva, Ohio is flush with wineries that make this area an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
You might not think of Ohio as prime wine country, but the land and climate near Lake Erie make the area ripe with opportunity. The lake traps heat, extending the growing season from summer into the fall, and the soil in the area offers excellent conditions for grape-growing.
The wineries around Geneva, which are part of the “Vines & Wines Trail” in Northeast Ohio, are perfect for a relaxing trip if you want to spend the day hanging out at one of them, or you can try to visit them all. Some of the wineries also offer guided tours of the facilities and vineyards, and you can rent vans with drivers for the day to take you around to several different wineries in the area (try Sunset Taxis).
Both indoor and outdoor areas are common at most of the Geneva wineries. Chill out on a breezy patio with a glass of your favorite Cabernet, or select a wine flight to try a bit of everything. Many of the wineries also have small plates that are available for purchase or accompanying restaurants, and others allow you to bring your own snacks. Most also have full bars with other drinks, such as cocktails and beer.
Debonne Vineyards, located in nearby Madison, is the largest estate winery in Ohio. When the weather stays warm enough, their outdoor stage has bands that will get you up on your feet and dancing, and you can order classic pub fare if you’re hungry. Their Rosé of Pinot Noir is delicious, and they’re also known for their Riesling and Ice Wine. If wine isn’t your thing, there’s a craft beer bar inside with local options, including their beer from Double Wing Brewing Co., Debonne’s own microbrewery.
South River Vineyard is a boutique winery built into an old church. While you’ll want to admire the stained-glass windows and rows of pews that are still intact, make sure to also spend some time on the covered back patio that overlooks the vineyards while you’re there. We’d recommend trying one of their twelve white wine varieties!
Ferrante Winery & Ristorante has a more classic upscale winery atmosphere. They have an extensive wine menu that includes a range of reds, whites, and blush wines, as well as specialty options, like Ice Wine and Blueberry Blanc. Sit outside by the gazebo to hear acoustic music and snack on appetizers, but when it’s time for a real meal, make reservations for dinner indoors and order the Cask Red to go with your steak.
Other recommended wineries and tasting rooms in the area include Laurello Vineyards, Hundley Cellars, M Cellars Winery, The Winery at Spring Hill, Kosicek Vineyards, Virant Family Winery, and Laurentia Vineyard & Winery. If you have any bourbon drinkers in your mix, add Red Eagle Spirits to your itinerary – get cozy in the converted barn-to-bar and order the Peanut Butter Cup cocktail to end your day with a drink that tastes like dessert.
If you’re looking for a late fall or early winter getaway, consider getting tickets for the Tannenbaum Wine Trail (which runs along the Vines & Wines Trail) for select weekends in November and December. You’ll receive wine samples, complimentary appetizers, an 18” Christmas Tree, and an ornament to decorate at each winery. You’ll also be given “Wine Bucks” rewards to use on discounted meals and gift shop items.
We’d recommend staying right in Geneva-on-the-Lake and then driving (or taking a tour bus) to the wineries from there. The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake has a mix of traditional hotel rooms and cottages next to Lake Erie. The cottages are standalone properties in the complex, but they have the comforts and amenities of the Lodge’s hotel rooms, along with front porches and outdoor firepits that line the lakeshore. Other accommodation options in Geneva-on-the-Lake include bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels, like The Lakehouse Inn and Eagle Cliff Inn. If you’d prefer to stay closer to the vineyards, try Polly Harper Inn or The Lost Pearl. Airbnb properties in both Geneva and Geneva-on-the-Lake are easy to find.
Plan your trip to Geneva-on-the-Lake and enjoy a weekend of wineries, food, scenic views, and live music as you explore the Vines & Wines Trail of Ohio!This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.