We were at it again. Casey and I took her daughter to Kalahari in Sandusky. We just had to make a winery stop...or two while we were at it.
With a quick search in my phone, I came upon Sand Hill winery that was in proximity to our destination. We passed signs for Firelands along the way, which we decided we would hit on the way back. On a side road just before our arrival to Kalahari, there was a sign for Hermes Winery (pronounced Hermez). It turns out the address I had for Sand Hill is also the same winery as Hermes.
We decided to venture off before supper the first night to see what Hermes had to offer. The first impression is pretty good. The tasting room is located in an old barn with picnic tables in the back, nestled among the vineyard. I could hardly believe the wine list when I was shown. Hermes is devoted to growing both exclusive and unusual varieties of vinifera grapes, especially those of the Rhone, Spanish, and Italian varieties, thus disproving the myth that Ohio is only for hybrids and cold-tolerant viniferas. Afterall, Sandusky, Ohio and Italy are on roughly the same latitude. Wines on the list included: Aglianico, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Many of these varieties are unheard of in this country, let alone Ohio! Of course, I had to try them all. I thought each were very good, but the Malbec was very light in body and flavor. To me, it was virtually a Rose. I was told this was the first year for this wine, therefore it was a work in progress. Unfortunately I do not have individual tasting notes on the other wines, but our favorite reds were rich, spicy, and had notes of tobacco . We took home a bottle each of Sangiovese, Cote de Hermes (Grenache blend), Barbera, and Nebbiolo, with the Nebbiolo being our favorite. I think there is some polishing that could be done, but I was very impressed with this little winery. In all of my Ohio wine research, I somehow missed this place. Lucky for us, we got to enjoy this little gem!
On our way home, we made our stop at Firelands Winery. This has been, in my opinion, one of the better Ohio wineries. I think it has a lot to do with them having a climate unique enough to have their own AVA on Isle St. George. Grapes are brought from the island to the winery via a large boat. For $3 you can try six different wines; either six dry or six sweet. I thought this was a pretty good deal, as it is not legal to serve free samples of alcohol in Ohio. We sampled Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, and Walleye White. The Dolcetto was the shining star here. We took a bottle home not just because of the taste, but to have something different on our wine rack. I like a variety of uncommons. Firelands has been around a long time, and they are definitely doing some really good things.
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