Monday, October 18, 2010

Ohio Winery Visit: Troutman Vineyards Celebrates Harvest

Green Dragon and I spent the weekend at Mohican State Park hiking and enjoying wonderful October weather. Before zipping back to the Toledo area, we thought we would check out Troutman Vineyards which had a Harvest Festival scheduled. Troutman Vineyards is set among the rolling hills of southwestern Wayne County in Ohio, about five miles south of Wooster and on the fringes of the Mohican region and the Amish community.

Andy and Deanna Troutman opened the winery in 2001 and the winery building is in a refurbished chicken coop that was originally built in 1935. A former owner of the winery land sold honey and flowers from a roadside stand. Andy lived not far from the site of the current winery and his interest in winemaking started at an early age. When he was in 4H he grew grapes. The vineyard was planted in 1998 with the first harvest in 2000. The vineyard focuses on grapes that Andy has determined thrive in Wayne County: Vidal Blanc, Lemberger, Traminette, and Cabernet Franc.

Things were really popping at the winery when we arrived. The tasting bar was jammed and there was a bluegrass band with a nice crowd in a picnic area in the back. There is a spacious tasting room that had hosted a Harvest Feast the night before we arrived and looks like it is great for special events. This is also a nice destination for kids, who are sure to enjoy the goats and donkey.

The wine samples are a ridiculously reasonable 25 cents. We started with the White Menagerie, a dry white made with Ohio-grown Seyval Blanc grapes. This snagged a gold medal at the Finger Lakes international competition and was a winner with us also. It had tropical fruit flavor notes and a good crispness. We purchased a bottle of this for $14.

The 2008 Pinot Gris is a dry white which is aged in French oak for six months. Although enjoyable, we prefer a bit more crispness.

We also tried the 2009 Cabernet Franc. We love Cab Franc and this is from estate-grown grapes and only 43 cases were made due to the small crop. This had a very pleasing taste, but we expect it will be even better after aging another year or two.

The most popular wine was Farmer’s Red. While we were at the counter at least two cases of Farmer’s Red were sold in addition to many bottles and glasses. This is a sweet red wine made with Concord grapes and we’re told it really goes well with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Andy gave me a tour of the production room and I was impressed with the array of tanks and equipment for such a small production winery. Andy’s winemaking experience has really benefitted the operation. He spent three years working at Wolf Creek Winery before opening his own. This gave him an insight of different equipment and connections that enabled him to find out about good deals on used equipment.

As we walked through the tank room Andy pulled out one of his few remaining bottles of sparkling white wine. This sparkler, made of Wayne County Vidal Blanc grapes, was dry and creamy. Thoroughly delicious.
I savored this and walked out to the bluegrass music where Green Dragon was enjoying a glass of White Menagerie. It was crowded with families who were enjoying picnic lunches, blue sky, and great music. Another feature of the Harvest Festival was grape stomping, something that Green Dragon always wanted to do.

This was a head-to-head competition. Two plastic tubs were filled with grapes in various stages of crushedness. There was a little hole at the bottom which trickled out to a cup. Green Dragon went head-to-head with a 6-year old boy who was apparently a professional grape stomper. Although she lost the race, she was pleased and purple.

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