Visiting the winery is almost a spiritual experience. That’s actually a joke, but very appropriate
because the winery is actually a 19th century church. The building was moved from its original location in Shalersville in Portage County in 2000. It served an active church from 1893 until the late 1970s when the congregation built a new building.
The church was disassembled with the aid of Amish carpenters and moved to its current location and still boasts the original floors, some of the stained glass windows and the interior doors. As we entered, the afternoon sun was filtering through the stained glass.
During the reconstruction, a time capsule was salvaged from the building and returned to the remnants of the original congregation. It was a copper box, about the size of a shoe box, soldered shut.
When opened, the copper inside was unweathered and still glowed with the original finish. It contained two leather bound bibles, a list of the 25 members of the church at the time of construction, some local newspaper articles, business cards, and several Indian head pennies.
The price for the tastings were $1 for three samples and we began with the whites. I sampled a very pleasant Riesling which had aromas of orange and honey. Green Dragon tasted the Pinot Grigio.
For the reds we began with Exodus. This is 100% Merlot and we were told that it was labeled such after the movie “Sideways” caused Merlot sales to slump. This had plum and jam flavor notes. Like other South River Vineyard wines, this came in a bottle with very attractive painted artwork.
Green Dragon really enjoyed her next taste, Trinity. This is a proprietary blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Chambourcin in almost equal amounts. This opens smoothly with berries and light oak. We purchased a bottle of this.
My next glass was Karma and “instant karma” really got me. This is their signature blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This packs a more powerful punch than the Trinity with complexities of a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. This has a nice backbone with good tannins and some chewy cherry flavors. This was my favorite.
We closed with the Pinot Noir, which has cherry and strawberry flavors with a touch of oak. It is available in limited quantities and is a winner.
The prices at the winery are astounding low for the quality. Most bottles are $16 or $17. Ice wine is a bit pricier. You can purchase a case of a single wine (excluding ice wine) or a mixed case for only $154, which is $12 per bottle. This is a great value.
Later that evening we went out to dinner and I was delighted to find Trinity on the wine list – and was pleased to find it pairs well with a gorgonzola burger.
The winery also has a wonderful pavilion. You can grab a glass of wine and stroll out to the pavilion which has an expansive view of the vineyards. This striking columned structure looks like a Greek temple sitting on a hillside. This certainly deserves a warm weather return visit.
Not only is this a great destination for wine lovers, but it’s also a great location for the photo buff.