Each spring, as soon as the weather breaks, I load up on car snacks and podcasts and make the quick two-hour drive up to Erie. Not one to wait for “a wine tour,” I have my hit list, and it changes slightly every time since there is SO MUCH in Lake Erie Wine Country, the largest grape-growing region east of the Rockies. (And it’s not all sweet wines! Erie proffers fruity native Labruscas and exquisite French-American wines to European-style wines.) I’m sharing one of my favorite itineraries with you on the condition that you share your wine with me:
My first stop is always Mazza Vineyards. The Mazza family is a good host: Not only do they produce award-winning wines, but they’ve also done so much to build up the region. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch Mario Mazza in the tasting room. Ask him to pour you a taste of the Cabernet Franc. I never leave without a bottle. (If you’re even luckier, you’ll bump into Bob Mazza, who has given me more than one tour of Erie in his pickup truck.)
South Shore Wine Company
Just five minutes down the road is South Shore Wine Company, a 150-year-old stone cellar that is the sister of Mazza Vineyards and packs a lot of Old World romance. The tasting room is dimly lit and moody, a dreamlike location to sip Traminette or Noiret. Ask about the Bare Bones bottles (White, Moscato, Rosé, and Red). They’re tasty, and will be permanent fixtures in your bar cart.
Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing
The Westfield Wonder is on the New York side, but at just 20 minutes, the first winery-brewery-distillery in the state is well worth the drive. I love sitting out on the patio with a Rhiskey Business (Rye Pale Ale aged in a whiskey barrel) when there’s live music. — And the Limoncello is the best I’ve ever had.
Right on the North East Marina is Noosa, one of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Chef Dan Kern borrows a lot of Latin, Asian, and oceanic cuisines for his inventive menu. I could eat the linguini with prawns, looking out over the water, and have my whole life figured out.
Lakeview on the Lake
The beds are comfy, and the hammock, under the stars, is even cozier. This place has a cabin vibe, and best of all — a crazy wooden staircase that zigzags through the trees, down the to water. This “secret” spot is perfect for a remote picnic/watching the sunset.
This post is sponsored by Mazza Vineyards and Visit Erie.