Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sipping My Way Through the Lake Erie Islands, Part One: Kelley's Island

Lake Erie Islands
It was the Winey Daughter's idea, and it was a good one. It was also one a LONG time in coming, because neither I or The Winey Hubby (who grew up in Northeast Ohio) have ever been to the famed Lake Erie Islands. These are a chain of islands most of which fall under the jurisdiction of our lovely state, Ohio. (A few of the islands, most notably and largest, Pelee, are actually in Canadian waters.) They are  known for the beauty, their food, their outdoor way of life and yes... their wineries! Our time was limited to just one day, so we decided to visit the two most popular destinations for Clevelanders: Kelley's Island and then the town of Put-In-Bay, on South Bass Island.

The Winey Family on
their golf cart
One gorgeous sunny Saturday, the three of us boarded the Jet Express and shot across the water to our first stop: Kelly's Island. Kelly's is actually the largest of the American islands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Within its 4.6 square miles lie historic buildings, Glacial Grooves National Natural Landmark, and Inscription Rock, which is covered with  pictographs believed to date back to the 17th century (or as we call it today, grafitti). The most efficient way to get around the island is to rent a golf cart, so we did. Our first stop: Kelley's Island Wine Company! This was one of the largest wineries in the country when it opened in 1872, but a few fires and a nasty era called Prohibition shut it down. It was re-opened in the 1980's, but not at its original location.

Kelley's Island Wine Company
There used to be an abundance of wine vines on Kelley's Island. Most of them have been taken over by natural forest growth though. That doesn't stop the winery from making 6 different wines that are sold at the winery. And they make it so easy to taste them all, because they offer a tasting tray, which gives you samples of all 6 wines. Pair that with a fruit, sausage and cheese tray and the The Winey Family was in for a wonderful snack-y lunch!

Here is a rundown of my notes on the wines:
Pelee Gamay Noir/Zweigelt: These grapes actually come from Pelee Island. The winery describes it as a spicy blend. I would have to say though that these spices were way dark..not savory in the least. The finish was extremely dry...not a favorite.

Inscription White: a very citrusy sour taste of lemon and lime and finished with a taste of green wood. Very dry, maybe needed some time to sit a bit?

Sunset Pink: A blush wine that is crisp with fruit flavors. There was a little kick at the end of this, a hint of thyme. This was very good!

Coyote White: aroma of white grape juice, and the flavor and taste were very similar to that. The winery says it tastes as if "plucked straight from the vine" and  I agree. Very close to grape juice. Not that that's bad, I just wasn't expecting it to be that close!

Long Sweet Red: Never got to taste much of that one. Thank you, Winey Hubby.

But my absolute favorite was the Glacial White (12%, NV, Ohio). It's a pretty pink-ish white color that gives off aromas of white grapes and flowers. It tastes of summer flowers with a tiny little touch of mineral. In fact, there was almost a little bubbling going on there. The finish was crisp around the edges and round and lush in the middle. Very much like a German Riesling and I would put this wine up against any of its German cousins any time! The crisp finish keeps it from being cloyingly sweet, as can happen with the German Rieslings. You just want to keep on sipping this one!!

The next part of our trip involved boarding the ferry once again for the ride over to South Bass Island. Since this article is getting a bit long to fit any island, let's save that wine experience for another day. Look for the Put-In-Bay and Heineman's Winery review  up next!

Winey Side Note: In the meantime, the Kelly's Island Wine Fest is being held September 22 from noon -7 pm. The link to the fest will take you to the Chamber of Commerce site, so you can see all the island happenings coming up. I can just imagine how gorgeous it is there in the fall!

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