In every corner of the Buckeye state, Ohio wineries are upping their game when it comes to pairing their wines with food, figuring quite correctly that the right match with a delicious dish will enhance their wines’ best attributes — and boost sales, too.
August 2013 Issue
Wine & Dine
Plan a stop at these fine-dining spots on your tour of Ohio’s vineyards.
We combed the state to introduce you to four on-site winery restaurants that are doing things right. To learn more, or to find an Ohio winery restaurant close to you, go to tasteohiowines.com or ohiowines.org.
Ferrante Winery & Ristorante
Ferrante Winery &
Ristorante — a third-generation, family-owned winery — traces its roots
to 1937, when Nicholas and Anna Ferrante first started selling their
fermented grape juice in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. The
founders’ sons, Anthony and Peter, built a winery in the family’s
Harpersfield Twp. vineyards and opened their first restaurant in the
1980s, a casual eatery serving mostly pizza and appetizers.
Then disaster struck. In 1994, a fire destroyed the restaurant and
part of the winery. Family members rolled up their sleeves, and out of
the ashes grew an even larger winery, with expanded cellars, and a
larger and more ambitious full-service restaurant.
Eighteen years later, Ferrante is a 100 percent estate-grown winery,
producing more than two dozen wines from 65 acres of vineyards that
surround the winery and restaurant.
The restaurant’s chef, Nina Salerno, has been with Ferrante for 14
years and has created an extensive menu that includes salads,
appetizers, pizzas, pastas, steaks, seafood, chicken and desserts.
Best pairings include pizza alla Tuscany — with roasted red bell
peppers, mushrooms, red onions, black olives, spinach leaves and
provolone and gorgonzola cheeses — matched with Ferrante’s “Signature
Series” Chardonnay, which is aged in French oak for three to six months.
Or try the Casa Lasagna, truly an old family recipe, with Ferrante’s
2012 Pinot Noir, with its berry fruit and touch of tea leaf flavor. Or
embrace the essence of Italian simplicity with the pizza alla
Margherita, the classic made with olive oil, Roma tomatoes, fresh
mozzarella, Romano cheese and fresh basil, with the winery’s Vidal
Blanc, an off-dry wine with peachy aromas that captured the “Best White
Wine” designation at the 2013 Ohio Wine Competition.
And don’t miss the opportunity to try one of Ferrante’s decadent ice
wines — they make both a Vidal Blanc and a Cabernet Franc version of
the deliciously sweet specialty wine — with tiramisu or cannolis.
Moyer Winery & Restaurant
various times in its 87-year history, the building that houses Moyer
Winery & Restaurant in Manchester, southeast of Cincinnati, served
as a square-dancing hall, a drinking spot for bootleg beer during
Prohibition, an amateur boxing ring that hosted an up-and-comer named
Ezzard Charles (who went on to become world heavyweight champion) — a
gambling club called The Top Hat, and a rest stop for truck drivers
winding their way along the Ohio River on U.S. 52.
Oh, if only these walls could talk …
Ken Moyer and his wife Mary bought the building in 1972 and opened
their namesake winery and restaurant the following year. Over the next
26 years, the Moyers expanded the restaurant and planted vineyards
The Moyers sold the winery to friends in 1999, and today there are
nine owners, including Cindy Gilkison, the restaurant’s current general
manager, and Ben White, winemaker.
In the summer and fall, the restaurant’s covered deck — which seats
65 and overlooks the Ohio River — is the place to sit. Diners can view
river traffic that might include barges, pleasure boats or even the
occasional paddle wheeler.
Gilkison says most of her customers prefer sweet wines to dry, so
while the winery offers Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from grapes
grown elsewhere, it also produces off-dry or moderately sweet wines such
as Moyer River Valley Red (from estate-grown grapes) and Moyer River
Valley White, as well as fruit wines such as Raspberry, Strawberry and
The restaurant’s signature dish is its cheese, bean & bacon
soup, which pairs well with the slightly sweet River Valley Red or the
River Valley White. The Buckeye burger is another favorite, topped with
house-made barbecue sauce made with the winery’s peach wine. (Try it
with Moyer’s Merlot.) The menu also includes a Top Hat filet mignon,
pan-fried chicken livers and blackened salmon pasta. Diners can order a
wine sampler platter served in tiny plastic cups before settling in for
Moyer’s down-home cooking and the view of the mighty Ohio.
Henke Winery & Restaurant
Joe Henke a trailblazer: He was operating an “urban winery” before the
term was even coined. But even when he started his namesake winery in
1996, Henke knew that his new venture couldn’t stand alone as just a
winery. Food had to be part of the equation.
“I felt it important to give people more than just wine and crackers,” Henke says.
He started small — cheese trays, salads and pizza. But a couple of
years after opening, Henke’s customers started pestering him to do
something special for Valentine’s Day. He decided to offer a four-course
meal with wine accompanying each course.
“We served Cornish hens, and it was a hit,” Henke recalls. Weekly
specials followed. Henke moved to his current Westwood location in 2001,
and house-made entrees, pizzas, soups, salads and desserts were soon
flowing out of the new winery’s restaurant kitchen.
Today, Henke brings in grapes from vineyards throughout Ohio and
from other states, and serves his wines alongside an extensive menu of
fresh-cut steaks, seafood, pasta and gourmet pizzas. (He recommends the
baked portabella mushroom, topped with spinach, onions and fresh herbs,
with the winery’s 2012 Vidal Blanc, sourced from North Bass Island.) Or
tuck into the Awesome Pan-Seared Cheese, consisting of extra-sharp
Vermont white cheddar coated with herbs and bread crumbs, seared and
laid atop a red wine berry sauce and served with bread and crackers.
Pair it with the winery’s Vin de Rouge, an easy-drinking, fruit-forward
Henke says he has never regretted adding a restaurant to his
business venture. “If we had been just a winery only, I seriously
believe we would have not survived.”
As retirement projects go, Gervasi Vineyard is quite an ambitious one.
Ted Swaldo retired as CEO of an auto-parts manufacturing company in
North Canton in early 2009, spent a month or so in Florida, quickly
decided that he was not suited for Florida or retirement, and returned
to Canton with an idea for a family business.
Less than five years later, Gervasi Vineyard has evolved into a
55-acre property that includes more than five acres of vineyards, a
bistro-style restaurant, another outdoor patio restaurant, a
6,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion, a wine-tasting bar, a banquet
facility and six four-suite villas for overnight stays.
Gervasi is serving more than 20 wines made from juice and fruit
sourced from a variety of vineyards within Ohio, California and other
states. But those five-plus acres of vineyards planted around the winery
between 2009 and 2011 are poised to start producing wines for Gervasi: A
limited-production release of red wine from the Marquette grape is
scheduled for 2014, and Frontenac Gris will be harvestable from the 2014
Both the Bistro and the Piazza boast extensive menus of entrees,
pizzas and pasta dishes that provide plenty of pairing options with
Gervasi’s 20-plus wines. The winery’s favorite pairing is Tuscan beef
short ribs with Truscano “Italian Tribute” Sangiovese, which winemaker
Andrew Codispoti describes as a tribute to the outstanding wines of
Italy, with flavors of black currant, plum and subtle oak.
The beef ribs are seared, then braised in beef stock with celery,
onion, carrot, rosemary and thyme. The dish is finished with a mushroom
veal sauce and served with roasted baby carrots and Parmesan mashed
potatoes. Or try the Gervasi Caesar salad — Romaine hearts with pecorino
crackers and white anchovy — with “Ciao Bella,” a Chardonnay with ripe
fruit and toasty oak notes.
Gervasi Vineyard’s Tuscan Beef Short Ribs
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 pounds beef short ribs
seasoned with salt and pepper
5 cups beef stock
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
2 bay leaves
3 black peppercorns
oven to 325 degrees. In a large, ovenproof pan or Dutch oven, heat oil
and sear short ribs on both sides. Pour in beef stock to cover, add all
other ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from stove, cover with
foil, and place in oven. Cook for two hours until fork-tender. Remove
and let rest
15 minutes before serving.