Vacation Planner: Wineries offer a special taste of Ohio Amish Country
DOVER, OHIO — Nestled in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country is something many people may not know exists amid the bakeries and cheesehouses – wineries.
The local wineries offer unique flavors and seasonal products for visitors to enjoy and take home.
Silver Moon Winery in Dover, Ohio, has more than 35 wines available in their store and their tasting room offers a chance to sample most of them.
“About 80 percent of are sales are sweet wines,” Melissa Wigfield, tasting room manager said. While they carry a variety of them all year round, their seasonal products are something customers enjoy and frequently sell out. In early winter, the Pomegranate Red wine was a big seller. “People love it,” Wigfield said. Spring brings the Calypso White, a pineapple banana sweet white wine, followed by a Watermelon Blush in late spring and summer. “That one sells out quickly,” she said. Eve’s Delight, a white cranberry green apple infused wine, is very popular for late summer and early fall, and a seasonal favorite around the holidays is Cranberry Red.
While sweet wines are the most popular, Wigfield said theirs may be more unexpected to consumers. “I think our wines are unique, even our sweet wines are light but full of flavor. They aren’t heavy syrupy sweetness that people shy away from.”
The winery also offers dry whites and reds, and dessert wines. Wigfield said the dessert wines are also very popular. “I think people get surprised by them,” she said. Their dessert wines also have some seasonal takes, such as Pumpkin Spice Dream.
The winery offers a tasting special, 6 tastes of wines the customer chooses for $3.99 plus tax, that comes with a special commemorative logo glass. “People love that they can take that souvenir home,” Wigfield said. Another special the winery offers is free shipping to Ohio residents on orders of 6 and 12 bottles.
Wigfield said she loves that she gets to meet so many different people in a day from many different places. “I love it when people come in and say we were so helpful and friendly. Those kind of responses are why I love what I do. I love knowing we can help them find something they like.”
Also in Dover, The Breitenbach Wine Cellars, the second largest winery in Ohio, has 38 kinds of award winning wines for sale and available for tastings.
“Our best sellers are Frostfire and Roadhouse Red,” said Jennifer Kohler, manager of the family business. “Our semi-sweet grape wines are the most popular.”
She said the winery is known for their fruit and berry wines, which are made with real fruits. “They are great dessert wines,” she said.
On the property site, there is a cafe that sells salads and wood-fired pizzas to enjoy with a glass of wine. The gift shop also sells a variety of meats and cheeses, as well as Amish food products. The winery also offers special events, including music on their patio, a barbecue event and Yoga in the Vineyard on Saturdays from May to October.
On May 4, the winery will hold its annual Dandelion May Fest, which features arts and crafts, music, dandelion food and of course, wine. A special Dandelion wine which is only available at the store, will be made. “It is made with flowers picked locally by an Amish family,” Kohler said. “They hand pick 5,000 galloons of flowers every spring.”
Customers can find both homemade cheese and wine at Broadrun Cheese and Swiss Heritage Winery, also in Dover. Customers can watch cheesemaking happening on site and purchase cheese from the shop, while sampling some of 17 types of wine bottled on site.
“We specialize in sweet American grape and fruit and berry wines,” said Chad Schindler, president and winemaker. “Our top seller is Victorian Lace, which is a sweet white wine blend.”
“Another popular wine for us is our Red Raspberry, which along with our Victorian Lace, have won gold medals in various wine competitions throughout the country.”
Schindler said another popular wine, especially in the summertime, is Coal Miners Daughter, which is a watermelon wine.
The winery is also undergoing a transformation. “We are currently nearing completion of a new 10,000 square foot facility on the same property where our wine production will move to,” Schindler said. “We will have windows to view the wine making process here as well. In this same building, we also will have a tasting room named Hans’ Place which will seat 60 people, where we will serve a variety of foods from our full-service commercial kitchen to pair with our wines. From the tasting room will lead out to a serene, wooded patio with seating capacity of over 100 to enjoy food and drink along with a stage for live music every Saturday evening until 9:30 p.m.”
The grand opening for this new facility is scheduled for June 9.
“We are the only winery actually IN Amish Country,” said Julia Guggisberg, owner of the Guggisberg Swiss Inn and Doughty Glenn Winery, located between Millersburg and Charm. “The others are all outside of it.”
As a small boutique winery, they only produce 8 wines, but they are award-winners. “The Raspberry got Best in Show in the fruit category in 2016, and our Gewursteraminer got Best in Show in the white wine category in 2017 and was nominated for Director’s Choice,” she said. Others are Concord, Catawba, Pink Catawba, Blush, Pinot Noir and Strawberry. The Raspberry is hard to keep in stock, she said.
All of the wines have pictures of the horses that are on the grounds and are named after them. “We like to incorporate the inn, riding stables and winery,” Guggisberg said. The family produces the fruit on the property to make the wine, which includes 8 acres of grape vines, with about 5000 vines and 500 raspberry bushes.
Guggisberg said the atmosphere they offer sets them apart. “We have a nice quality wine we serve, and you can go out back and sit by pond and drink wine, it’s very peaceful and quiet here.” The inn was remodeled this winter and the Guggisbergs are adding another big gazebo and waterfall on the grounds.
Friday nights, the inn and winery offers live entertainment from April through November with regional singers and musicians.
Right off the interstate and 2 miles outside of town in Dover is School House Winery. Located in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1886, the winery combines history with school-themed wines, complete with a ringing bell and a chalkboard.
With a menu of more than 17 wines, the company offers both sweet and dry wines.
“We have seasonal wines depending on what juice you get after harvest,” said Courtney Thomas, marketing and sales manager for the company. “We have blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, cherry and lemon.” The fruit wines are all made with 100 percent that fruit, with no grapes in them. Thomas said their cherry wine is special because it is made from two sour cherry trees located in the owner’s backyard. “It’s very unique and as organic as it can be,” she said. “No pesticides are used on the trees and there are no preservatives.”
The most popular fruit wine in the summertime is their lemon wine. “It is made with 100 percent lemon juice, and it’s not too sweet and not too acidic,” Thomas said.
As for grape wines, Teacher’s Pet, a concord and niagra grape blend, sells really well. “It’s the wine we use in sangria,” she said.
Thomas said their historic location sets them apart from others. “It’s enough out it feels secluded and it takes you back in time,” she said. “It’s really neat to see a piece of history preserved.”
* Silver Moon Winery: silvermoonwinery.com
* Breitenbach Wine Cellars: breitenbachwine.com
* School House Winery: schoolhousewine.com
* Broadrun Cheese and Swiss Heritage Winery: broadruncheese.com
* Doughty Glenn Winery: doughtyglenwinery.com