Couple drinking wine and eating pizza at Breitenbach Wine Cellars in Dover (photo by Kevin Kopanski)
Food + Drink | Wineries

4 Ohio Wineries to Visit During Harvest Season

These destinations from different regions of Ohio are fall favorites that offer a flavor of what the state’s winemakers are growing and crafting.

Breitenbach Wine Cellars

Breitenbach Wine Cellars has the look and feel of a small German village, which lends to its charm. With more than 40 varieties of wine to sample, it is an easy place to both spend an afternoon and learn about the craft of winemaking.

The winery fits right into Ohio’s Amish Country. Founded by Duke and Cynthia Bixler in 1980, Breitenbach was one of the state’s earliest commercial wineries. Now, it is a frequently visited destination along the Canal Country Wine Trail.

“We have people coming from all over the country to see the beautiful foliage, the rolling hills and picturesque views,” says Anita Davis, who with her sister Jennifer Kohler, operates the business started by their parents.

The sprawling complex includes a tasting room and retail store, plus a cafe, guest house and an event venue.

Davis says the winery is known for events like the spring Dandelion Festival and the fall Harvest Party. The annual Breitenbach Dog Show is a favorite as well. The Harvest Party showcases the traditional, old-style method of grape crushing, where grapes are stomped with bare feet in wooden barrels. Some visitors even get the chance to try it themselves.

Breitenbach’s Roadhouse Red is a customer favorite. It’s a blend of French and American grapes: Concord, Baco noir and Norton. It’s smooth and balanced and appeals to people who like dry or sweet wine.

There is beauty in every season at Breitenbach, but there’s something special about harvest time. “We encourage people to take a glass of wine into the vines,” Davis says. 5934 Old Route 39 NW, Dover 44622, 330/343-3603,
Women enjoying wine at Shade Winery in Shade, Ohio (photo by Matt Shiffler)

Shade Winery

A juicy glass of wine and an ambling walk through a vineyard are fitting ways to usher in the change of seasons. Both can be enjoyed at Shade Winery, about 10 miles from downtown Athens. Owners Neal and Oui Dix thought of everything: epic scenery, good food and a portfolio of estate wines that appeals to a wide variety of tastes.

“Southern Athens County is just beautiful in the fall,” Neal Dix says. “The air is clear and crisp. The trees have tremendous color. The grapes are hanging heavily on the vines.”

A wraparound porch just off the tasting room offers panoramic views of the vineyard and a distant pond that reflects sunlit reds and golds of a nearby oak tree grove. When temperatures drop, visitors gather around the outdoor fireplace.

The patio is another perfect sipping spot, adjacent to rows of chardonnay, vidal blanc, cabernet franc and cynthiana grapes (a variety also known as Norton).  Here, it’s easy for visitors to see a connection between the verdant vines and the drink they hold in their hands.

Around 15 wines are available at any given time, so the six-taste flight is a good option for the commitment averse. The vidal blanc, a varietal similar to sauvignon blanc, grows extremely well here in Ohio’s Appalachian wine region and it tends to pair well with everything.

Shade Winery is more of a respite than a raucous time, and that was intentional.

“Our guests come to relax and unwind over good wine and food,” says Dix. 401 Gilkey Ridge Rd., Shade 45776, 740/696-1323,

Visitors around an outdoor table at Quarry Hill Winery in Berlin Heights (photo courtesy of Quarry Hill Winery)
Quarry Hill Winery 

Quarry Hill Winery is perched atop the highest hill in Erie County. It’s a place that acknowledges and celebrates the area’s agricultural roots — a reminder that everything delicious starts with the land.

From the large outside deck or through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the tasting room, visitors can see the expansive property of neighboring Quarry Hill Orchards, third-generation producers of some of the most prized apples, peaches and cherries in the region. Look closely, beyond a distant tree line, and Lake Erie comes into view.

Ohio’s early winemakers heralded a sweet, fruit-forward style made primarily from Concord and Catawba grapes. With 95,000 carefully tended fruit trees nearby, Quarry Hill’s fruit wines challenge preconceptions of sweet wines. They also happen to be some of the staff favorites.

Tasting room manager Emily Specht says she feels a connection to the orchard next door and thinks it’s important to visitors, too.

“Some days, I see Poppy Bill [Gammie] on the tractor or watch the orchard crew harvesting apples,” she says. “People like seeing the origins of what they are tasting.”

This is the place to drink a perfectly chilled glass of Quarry Hill apple wine while gazing at the source.

“My personal favorite is the semidry apple wine made from our very own apples,” Specht says. “It’s super light, crisp and perfect on a hot day.”

The Lake Erie microclimate works well for vinifera grapes, too. Wine drinkers who prefer a European style will appreciate Pinnacle, a red blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and syrah, an homage to the winery’s hilltop location. 8304 Mason Rd., Berlin Heights 44814, 419/588-3179,

Kosicek Vineyards aerial view (photo courtesy of Kosicek Vineyards)
Kosicek Vineyards

Since 2012, Tony Kosicek has been producing estate varietals on land farmed by his grandfather, a Slovenian immigrant who settled in Ashtabula County in 1929.

“Ninety percent of the time, when you walk in you will see me, my wife Mauri, or our son and daughter,” says Kosicek. Brix, the family Bernedoodle and winery mascot, usually offers an enthusiastic greeting as well.

The Grand River Valley, the growing region where Kosicek Vineyard is located, yields some of the best vinifera grapes in Ohio. Eighteen acres are under vine on the 55-acre property. Connecting grapes to the glass is part of the experience. Visitors stop in the tasting room for the winery’s award-winning estate cabernet sauvignon or merlot and walk the vineyards where the next crop of grapes await the mid-September harvest.

“You can actually catch the smell of the ripe Concord grapes in the air,” says Kosicek.

Some of those will end up in the estate Concord ice wine, a double gold medal winner in the 2022 Ohio Wine Competition. Those grapes are harvested in the freezing temperatures of January when their sugars are most concentrated.

Miles of brilliant oak and maple trees are in view from the patio, and Kosicek planted a pick-your-own sunflower field that is perfect for fall photos.

Autumn is a time for appreciation, Kosicek explains. “It’s when we get to see all of the work that we’ve done all year come to fruition.” 636 St. Rte. 534, Harpersfield 44041, 440/361-4573,