Debonne was our fourth stop on the Trail. It was a sunny but cold day and we were looking forward to the visit, despite a comment by one winemaker earlier in the day that, “Oh yeah, they’re a big commercial winery.”
Debonne is the largest estate winery in Ohio. The family has been in business in the area since 1916.
Upon arriving, the winery and grounds give a very favorable impression. This is a substantial operation and a great place to spend a sunny afternoon or while away a cold day inside at the tasting bar.
There is a nice grass amphitheater outside where concerts are offered weekly in warmer weather. There is also a great patio. Inside there is a nice restaurant and spacious tasting bar.
We started out with a Chardonnay. This was not a very inspired wine and had a flat taste to me. It is lightly oaked and had apple on the palate. The semi-dry Riesling had light spice and apricot flavor notes – a bit sweet for the Green Dragon and I who prefer dry Riesling.
The Cabernet Franc is a dry red with a touch of smokiness and aroma of pepper. It has rich flavors of black cherry and light oak. This also had a rewarding finish. This is a pleasing wine.
Green Dragon next sampled the Grand Dolina, on of the “Vineyard Select house wines of Chalet Debonne.” Although we didn’t realize it at the time, apparently the Chalet Debonne wines are a line of lower priced lambrusca and French hybrid type wines. Some of these wines, like Delaware and Catawba, are typical Lake Erie style wines, with a tendency for sweetness and a “foxy” taste. The Grand Dolina was unremarkable. These wines might be good for backyard sipping, but my advice would be to stick to the premium wines from Debonne.
The final taste for me was “a Cab.” This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin. This has flavors of blackberry and oak. Chambourcin is an interesting grape, but doesn’t have much of a bouquet and as a result, this wine didn’t have much nose.
Debonne is a major player in the Ohio wine scene with a wide portfolio of wines from low cost sippers to varietals that can proudly accompany your finest meal. The winery itself is a lively scene with music and special events regularly scheduled.
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Photo: Debonne employee seals the capsules on some custom labeled wine.