I'm working on a winery piece for Small Town Newspaper, which means I get to go around visiting all the local wineries and meeting people. I love that. A lot.
Yesterday, I visited three small wineries all within a ten-minute drive from my house. Because the Ohio climate is not necessarily conducive to growing good grapes, most wineries here bring in a base from California or Canada, depending on the kind of grapes they want, and work from there. So, they can set up shops just about anywhere without having to be connected to a vineyard.
At the first stop, I met a couple who was there for tasting. They hadn't met before, the woman said, so I'm guessing they met on line. When the man was out of ear shot, the woman told me she bought a lace shawl at the winery/gift shop down the road that you can do almost anything with. She plans on using it when she belly dances. We shared a sampling of a dessert wine that was supposed to taste like leather and tobacco. I didn't detect either, honestly. The man asked if they had anything that tasted like leather and lace, and I thought he would appreciate his date's new shawl.
I drove down to the road to another winery that is connected to a cheese house. We make a lot of cheese around here, mainly Swiss, because of the Swiss and German heritage. The shop had no electricity because an electrician was installing a generator, so I sat in the dark with the wine maker and talked about how people around here prefer sweet wine, which is why he's completely out of the rhubarb. Rhubarb, really. I'm not sure what to make of that, but then I didn't get a sample. Maybe it's good, but it would have to have a ton of sugar to make it palatable.
On my way back east, I met this guy. He was laying down when I approached him, but he stood up when I got closer, I assume because he thought I had food (click on the picture to get a better look at his expression of disappointment, or is he just peeing). What is this thing?
My third visit for the day was a new winery that has opened up in an one-room school house. We've got a lot of those old buildings, evidently, and I applaud people for finding creative ways to use them. This place is unique because the interior is clean with white walls and simple tables and chairs—no lace table clothes for sale or extra things to clutter it up. The guy made a face when talking about how people around here prefer sweet to dry wines, but he said he has a couple of dry wines on his list to accommodate the people "with more mature tastes." I bought a bottle of dry red, but it's a concord wine, so it's still pretty sweet.
Today, I'll be visiting a winery a little farther away that actually has a vineyard, and they have food. We'll see if the wine is noticeably different from what everyone else is making using imported juice. Tomorrow's winery does not have a vineyard, nor does the one set for Saturday, but the last one scheduled for next week does grow their own grapes.
I like this job.