Monday, May 29, 2017

Stoney Ridge Winery: An Ohio Winery Visit

Story and photographs by Tasting Team Member Glorious T

We have long heard good reports about Stoney Ridge Winery, but never made the trip out to Bryan Ohio. Interesting, because my dad’s family is originally from the area, and he loves their wine, typically bringing the Cherry Blossom to family events, where it receives rave reviews. We recently had the opportunity to visit and jumped at the chance. 

Photo May 12, 2 18 03 PMThe opportunity arose when we were at the monthly Brandywine Country Club’s wine dinner. We have been joining two delightful couples and on this visit were joined by Jim Cameron, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Berman Division of Heidelberg Distributing. Jim was surprised to learn that no one on our group had yet experienced Stoney Ridge and made the offer to arrange a tasting. We were all up for a spring time road trip, and enthusiastically marked our calendars. Well, except the Cabernetor. He missed the memo, but effectively cleared his calendar the week of the trip. When the time rolled around, it was a picture perfect day to leave work early and get outside.

We met at Brandywine and were greeted by a Mercedes van stocked with wine. Our new friends, all Kroger employees, know a thing or two about catering and showed up with beautiful plates of meats and cheeses. Glorious T made a southern pimento cheese dip. We were well set for the one hour trip, west on the turnpike. Once we were settled in and on the road, we popped open the 2016 Charles & Charles Rose from Columbia Valley. It was a perfect start on this sunny warm day. Glorious T and the Cabernetor had visited this tasting room in Walla Walla, and deemed it an interesting and enjoyable experience. Aromatics of raspberry and cherry with a bit of rose petal was complemented by a crisp and bright finish. Even those proclaiming to not be big fans of rosé really enjoyed this selection.

Photo May 12, 2 37 37 PMSoon, we opened the meat and cheese and enjoyed some snacks as the next bottle was open: 2015 Meiomi Chardonnay. As if this smooth and rich wine wasn’t enjoyable enough, Joyce added a slice of mango to each glass. Wow! We were so happy to discover this taste sensation; do try this at home!

Photo May 12, 3 06 13 PMWe turned off the turnpike onto US Highway 127 and were soon at our destination, tucked away back on a country road; a beautiful building, and lovely pond in a picturesque setting. We were greeted by owner, Pam Stotz. She poured our first tasting and took us on a tour of this impressive facility. Her son is the winemaker. They produce 20 varieties on this 13 acre farm, which was originally planted in 2000. In 2013, vines were dug out after an unusually bad winter. In their place, new cold hardy French hybrids originally developed at Cornell University were planted. Pam believes that Ohio wineries are trying to break out of the mold for which they are largely known in the sweet wine category. Stoney Ridge also buys Concord and Niagara juice, and sells its own grapes to Ohio businesses, and they do custom pressing. Quite an operation! Now, on to the wine. We returned to the cozy and rustic wine tasting room with an eye catching fieldstone fireplace as its focal point.

Photo May 12, 3 31 49 PMPam took us through a delightful tasting, complete with entertaining history and stories. We feasted on her new cheesy onion dip – mmmm, do try; you will be hooked! Ohio wineries are trying to rid themselves of the “pink soda pop” reputation. People do love sweet wines, but the staff at Stoney Ridge really does have some remarkable wines for those looking for semi dry to dry choices. This Ohio winery definitely has broken out of the “soda pop” mold.

We deemed the Elegant Farmer to be a great start for any evening, and a wonderful choice for summer. Refreshing, pleasant and light; this is a new estate blend and already quite popular.

We loved the feel of the Vineyard Dew; full and lush, great body and fullness; it was bright and crisp with grapefruit notes.

The next estate wine, Proprietor’s Blend, is semi dry with a floral nose. This was a favorite of the group; it is well balanced and not too acidic.

Another estate choice, Barn Dance Blush, is a blend of reds and whites. Easy drinking and very pleasant.

Photo May 12, 5 50 17 PMStoney Ridge’s best seller is the Barn Dance Red; an estate blend that pretty much appeals to a wide demographic.

We found the story of the Bare Butt Beach to be entertaining, and the playful label is pure fun! Medium sweet and enjoyable, easy drinking.

The interesting Marquette estate varietal was vivid and enjoyable, even though young at only 4 months in the bottle.

Cabernetor and Glorious T discovered Marechal Foch on a trip to the popular Finger Lakes Wine Country. A favorite, Bully Hill Vineyards was displaced by Stoney’s Ridge’s offering today. Just the right amount of jammy fruit, perfectly balanced with a smooth, dry finish. This may have been the favorite of the entire group; nicely done!

A favorite of my family is the Cherry Blossom; it has shown up at holiday events. Subtle and enjoyable choice with sips of sweet and tart cherries.

Photo May 12, 4 18 34 PMRhubarb is in every produce department I enter, and all I can think of is the Country Rhubarb wine. Forget the pie and the sauce; for a real summer treat, grab a bottle of this unique wine. The rhubarb is sourced from a field just a short drive away in Michigan, juiced and pressed, flash frozen, shipped and fermented before it makes its way into the bottle as a semi sweet and charming liquid that you may not realize right away is rhubarb. But you will love that it just screams summer. Great patio drinker.

Before stepping outside, Pam served a dessert glass full of their signature Slap Happy Cider. Two years ago, Pam made the decision to produce a hard cider, using high quality apples picked and delivered by Amish neighbors before placing in cold storage to be pressed. Barrels are filled, fermented, and carbonated before they carefully start the super fast process of filling 2600 bottles an hour! Everyone in the group agreed that this was a taste treat. We picked up bottles to bring home to hard cider fans, and Slap Happy received rave reviews!

Photo May 12, 4 31 34 PMWe decided to take the party outside. The beautifully manicured 13 acre vineyard and surrounding area is so picturesque; and a great place to relax and enjoy some remarkable wine on the lakeside patio with surrounding woods. There are many summer events scheduled, including frequent live music, a pig roast, summer music fest and a lobster boil. Check the website for a complete listing.

Recently, we had a frost warning, yes, in May in Ohio! Pam and her family are so committed, that they developed an intensive plan. She notified the sheriff that they would be burning bonfires all night long, in an effort to save their vineyard. She and her son awoke early in the morning and sprayed all night long, and burned the bonfires, shining so bright they could be seen all around the area. Indeed, they saved their vineyard!

As our road trip came to an end; the group purchased wine (and fresh asparagus) to go, thanked Jim Cameron for arranging this trip, and Pam for her wonderful hospitality. We discovered a gem; put Stoney Ridge on your summer fun calendar!

Stoney Ridge is open all year. For information, contact info@stoneyridgewinery.com and visit http://stoneyridgewinery.com/.

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