Why Erie is the only place we want to be in the springtime

With the sunshine (or the lack thereof), Erie is calling. We’re hash-tagging #cmonspring and packing our overnight bags for the waterfront destination just two short hours away. Here’s what’s going on on the lake this season:
In the springtime, we slough off the heavy Cabs and look toward lighter varieties. Winemaker Mario Mazza makes some of the best bottles in Erie, so we asked for his picks. Here are five bottles we’ll be drinking as the weather warms up:

Mazza Wines_TABLE_Milliron

Photography by Adam Milliron

South Shore Wine Company Grüner Veltliner – “Versatile and food friendly”
Bare Bones Moscato – “Not overly sweet, and just a hint of fizz”
Sparkling Riesling – “This one is not just for celebrations or brunch – a fragrant and fruity traditional-method sparkling wine”
Mazza Vineyards Merlot – “A great option for those who are looking for a balanced and soft red, particularly on a cool spring day”
Bare Bones Rosé – “With summer just around the corner, this is a great option to get ready for rosé season.”
The thing about Erie is that it’s technically close enough to go for dinner (two episodes of The Splendid Table, and you’re there). And snagging a reservation at Chef Dan Kern’s 1201 Kitchen is always worth knocking off work a little early on Friday for a meal that’s truly inspired. His spring menu is (seafood-centric and) downright inspired. In fact, we already have three favorites:
1201 Kitchen and Noosa_spring

Photos courtesy @1201kitchen

(Left to right:)
Grilled swordfish with brown butter-grilled squash, Spanish Romesco, ricotta fritter, Yuri yogurt, almonds, and Aojiso-dressed bitter dandelion
Seared tuna with crispy potato, chili-pickled tsuyu, garlic aioli, and tobiko
Snapper ceviche with aguachile, jicama-cucumber salsa, and sesame oil
Okay, while you can technically head back to the ‘Burgh after dinner, we’re strong advocates of ordering a bottle of wine and booking a room. We love the Sheraton Erie Bayfront because it’s right on the water and so accessible to everything we want to do (read: visit more wineries).
1. Start at 6 Mile Cellars, a breezy 45-minute bike ride (or 15 minutes by car). The tasting room is located in a 100-year-old barn, but ask Sherri for a ride on her golf cart through the vineyard with a bottle of her rosé (the Snapper Cider is also killer).
2. Next, head to Presque Isle Wine Cellars, just 13 minutes down the road. Presque Isle Wine Cellars was one of the first two wineries to open since Prohibition. They also famous sell wine-making supplies to enthusiasts all over the country.
3. Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards is next, 10 more minutes by car and right on the water. This winery was the first to bottle Pennsylvania Champagne. It’s extra dry, crisp and covet-worthy.
4. Walk it off, or hop in the car for just three minutes to South Shore Wine Company, housed in cavernous and cool wine cellar, built in the 1860s.
5. Another three minutes down the road is the famous Mazza Vineyards. The spicy Sangiovese is a fast favorite. (We bought two bottles — neither made it home with us.)
*Sober up with a bite at Noosa (a 15-minute walk from the vineyard), right on the marina, before heading back to the Bayfront Hotel.
Sponsored by VisitErie.com and Mazza Vineyards