Friday, November 25, 2011

Paper Moon Vineyards: Ohio Winery Visit

We found Paper Moon Vineyards, 2008 State Road, Vermilion, Ohio, (440) 967-2500, to be like an Oreo during our recent visit – all the good stuff is on the inside! Pulling into the parking lot, we saw a big, unassuming metal building that looked more like a warehouse than the purveyor of quality wine. Walking inside, however, the winery is big and beautiful – just the place to enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fireplace or listen to a band with friends.

The winery is a family business. The Cawrse family operated the Cloverdale Creamery, which operated for 36 years. It later focused on institutional food service, catering to large school systems. In 2006 Cloverdale Foods was sold and it was decided to open a winery that offered adults a “restorative social atmosphere.”

Adam Cawrse is the winemaker. “I went to France on a church mission trip and was introduced to wine,” he said. “I came back with a passion.” He has studied at UC-Davis and now directs the winemaking for Paper Moon.

The winery sits on 50 acres of cleared and wooded land just west of the Vermilion River. It’s located less than two miles from Lake Erie and lies in a region known for its flourishing vineyards.

In May of 2008, 4,000 vines were planted over five acres of the property. These vines require a few years to mature and include Vidal Blanc, Traminette, Noiret, Marquette and Chambourcin. Adam says the first full harvest of their own grapes should take place in 2012. The winery will focus on blends and small lot batches. We were excited to hear that Adam is a Dry Riesling fan and hopes to make some in future years.

Currently the winery purchases and processes grapes or juice. Most is sourced from the Lake Erie area or Lodi, California. The winery has a destemmer/crusher and a press for processing fresh grapes. The production room also includes stainless steel, temperature-controlled tanks that allow the winemaker to control the fermentation process. The lab is outfitted to monitor the winemaking process from grapes to wine.

Our first taste was the Viognier, which is made with Lodi grapes. This had a tart, citrus flavor. The Riesling used Lake Erie fruit and was finished in a semi-sweet style. These wines were enjoyable, but simple.

The reds were more to our liking. The Chambourcin is another Lake Erie product with a tart, semi-dry flavor of raspberries. Chambourcin is one of my favorite regional grapes. The Sangiovese had a very light color and body and was dry and earthy.

The winning wine was the Old Vine Zinfandel, using grapes from Lodi (which is known for great Zinfandel). This was light in style with flavorful berry and plum flavor. We combined it with a cut truffle from Brammer’s and the combination was a home run!

Paper Moon’s tasting room features a stone and stucco décor with a copper tasting bar and a large fireplace. Tables made from oak barrels fill the area. There is also a covered patio area that seats about 60. Outside is a grassy courtyard that has a fire ring and plenty of room for outside fun during nice weather.

The winery has only been open for two years, but it is clear to see they are doing things first class. Paper Moon is a enjoyable visit for wine, food or music and the real fun will start when wines are produced from their own vineyard.

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