This Ohio winery combines grapes and trains. The results are on track with delicious results.
Stop At A Refueling Depot
In the olden days of steam locomotives, trains would stop to take on water. They’d fill up their tanks with water to run the boiler, ensuring there’d be enough steam to finish the next leg of the journey.
We found ourselves in a similar situation when we recently returned from a friend’s birthday party near Pittsburgh. Deciding we would avoid the stress and nondescript scenery of the interstate, we were cruising along US 224 east of Akron when our “steam engine” needed to refuel. In other words, the Green Dragon said she needed to stop to eat.
A few spoken words to our phone very fortuitously showed a couple of wineries near our location. One is a rather well known winery, but it was closed on Sunday. We decided instead to visit Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard in Rootstown.
We are fans of Ohio wineries and encourage support of local wineries and businesses. Sometimes our faith is rewarded, but there have been a few times were the quality is uneven. As Forrest Gump may have said, going into a winery in Ohio is like opening a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. We’re pleased to report that the “chocolates” in this box were very tasty.
If we hadn’t decided to take the backroads on our return trip from PA, we never would have passed through Rootstown and other notable places like Ruggles, Ohio. Fate rewarded our wayfinding with a visit to a cool winery.
Soon after we pulled into the parking lot for Barrel Run Crossing, a freight train came roaring by – giving no doubt about the reason for the winery name. Barrel Run is the name of a nearby creek.
Barrel Run was derived from a family farm that had been in existence for four generations. Nick and Tirina Miller planted the first vineyard in 2006. Hay, soybeans and wheat have been grown along with 11 acres of eight different grape varieties. There is also a five-acre apple orchard, put to good use in their ciders and dry apple wines.
For the Millers, goals for the winery include producing superior wine that is authentically Ohio from Ohio grapes. They want to the land to continue to be used for agricultural purposes and provide jobs for the community.
Wine is produced mostly from estate grapes, with some being sources from other Ohio wineries. There is a small quantity of grapes from the family farm in North Carolina. White grapes grown in the vineyard include: Frontenac Gris, St. Pepin and Frontenac Blanc. Red estate grapes include Corot Noir, Frontenac, Marquette and Noiret.
Flavorful Cargo Delivered!
We mostly visit wineries for – you guessed it – for the wine. At Barrel Run Crossing the food is also an attraction. I enjoyed a tasty Turkey Gouda panini while the Green Dragon had grilled cheese with homemade tomato soup.
The tasting room has a view out to the vineyard and you can also see the trains rumble by. There are plenty of windows and comfortable seating for eating or drinking. To get the full experience, we opted for a flight.
Flights are served in a cross-section of a log branded with a very “railroady” BRX and holes drilled to hold the serving cups. The wines are railroad themed. We started with Traminette (OK, there is at least one that doesn’t have a railroad name). Traminette is a white hybrid grape that tastes very much like Gewürztraminer. Locomotion, a blend of Chardonnay, Traminette and Vidal, was more to the liking of Green Dragon – a light refreshing white.
High Iron looks almost orange in the glass and is a dry blend. It is early with a brambly flavor. The blend isn’t disclosed, but I’ll guess that it includes Marquette and perhaps Frontenac. The Roundhouse red is a blend of Frontenac and Cab Franc (about a 70-30 blend). This is enjoyable with a taste of pepper.
A chance meeting with new friends Charles and Cassandra added much to the enjoyment of our visit. They were recently married and had been staying nearby in a B&B and enjoying a tour of wineries. Making new friends and sometimes bumping into them later on the wine trail is an enjoyable aspect of visiting wineries.
We finished our tasting with Engine Number 5, of which we also purchased a bottle. Engine is a dry blend with cherry and blackberry flavors. This includes Noiret, a hybrid grape that’s deep in color.
In all, the wines were enjoyable. As you might expect, the body for the reds is lighter than a California wine. The flavor notes, though, are right on target. These are wines intended for enjoying over a casual meal or to open with friends at a get-together.
Barrel Run Crossing is a great destination for wine lovers. Come by automobile, plane or train – you’ll enjoy the visit.