The Drive: Geneva-On-The-Lake, Ohio Miles: 52 Quite a Fest: Take in some music on the lawn at Debonne Vineyards on Saturday, Sept. 15 for the inaugural Rompas Bacchanalia Harvest Mardi Gras Folk Festival. www.debonne.com
Eleven glasses clink in unison. The sound is echoed by the high-pitched laughter of giddy women, their voices getting louder with each glass of wine. The taste of the Ohio Riesling is sweet and tantalizing, but the prospect of a day spent together sightseeing and sipping vino is what makes an escape to the northeast corner of the state so inviting.
With more than 20 options, Northeast Ohio is a hotbed for wineries. The area has more per square mile than any other region in the state. Enlist the help of Ohio Vine Tours, an organization that customizes estate-only winery tours for groups of any size. They’ll arrange lodging and cart your crew around so you can be worry-free.
Begin at Debonne Vineyards, Ohio’s largest estate winery, with a lazy afternoon in the expansive outdoor amphitheater listening to some live tunes and gabbing with friends. Order tasting trays ($5) to share, or grab a bottle of crisp, sweet Raspberry Riesling.
Head next to South River Vineyard, 20-plus acres of vineyards that could fit as well in the California countryside as they do in Geneva. The restored 110-year-old Victorian chapel stands at the front of a lush setting complete with an outdoor stone fireplace.
At Virant Family Winery, you can pair pleasing blends with a hearty barbecue dinner: steak, chicken or ribs straight from the grill. There’s no need to act refined here, it’s all about getting loud and having a good time. Throw some coins in the jukebox for good measure.
End with Chambourcin, a dry red wine with hints of cherry, at the rustic Old Mill Winery. The pace picks up inside the historic mill, where a live band (and all that wine) will stir you to dance the night away. (440) 576-4588, www.ohiovinetours.com