I can hardly believe that it has been almost two years since we published our first “Insiders Guide to Lake Erie Wine Country”.
As with life, there have been changes since then. We are updating the guide, and once again beginning the difficult task of visiting ALL the wineries and seeing exactly what has changed –not only with the wines, but the wineries themselves.
As my original partner, Tajana, now resides in Colorado, I needed to draft a new co-taster and reviewer. After much arm twisting, Sue has agreed to help me in this endeavor. She, too, is probably more qualified than I. Tajana’s special skill set (sorely missed) is photography. Sue is a trained chef and world traveler!
For our first visit, I chose two local wineries that I knew had undergone significant changes: Arundel and Lakeview. Both have completed some major building projects since our last visit, and Arundel has added some lunch/snack items as well as beer and cider to their menu.
Here is what we found:
Arundel Cellars & Brewing Co
11727 E. Main Rd (Rt 20) North East
Hours: May – September: Monday-Thursday 11am-6pm
Friday and Saturday 11am-8pm Sunday noon-5pm
Food menu available during open hours
What was previously a decent sized tasting room is now expanded into a full sized event room in the back, with a great bar area and tables for tasting and snacking. There is a large fireplace, and some space has been cleared in the back of the building for summer outside concerts. There are new plantings of grapes outside.
One of the comments from guests over the years has been requests for restaurants at the wineries, so the addition of the option of food with the wine is appreciated.
The new food menu includes 3 different sandwiches, pulled pork nachos, meat and cheese tray and a few other appetizer type items. Suggested pairings with Arundel wines and beer is included on the menu. Prices range from $5 – $8.
We tried the French Dip Sandwich, the Marinated Cheese and the Pulled Pork Nachos. Our favorites were the Marinated Cheese and the Nachos. The Cheese was a mix of shredded cheddar with sundried tomatoes and olives that had a good salty snap, but was difficult to eat with the utensils given. We liked the Falcon Red or the Train Wreck Ale with it.
Likewise, the Nachos paired well with any of the milder beers, the Falcon Red, and (surprising to me) the sweeter Gandy Dancer. The amount of pulled pork on the nachos was a bit sparse, and we thought the French Dip a bit small.
Also new since the last visit here were the beers! There were 7 beers when we were there, and there are seasonal changes as well. Beer is available as part of a 5 sample tasting ($2), as a 4 variety flight ($10 in 6oz sample glasses), in 16 oz. glasses ($6.50 – $7.50) or growlers ($16 -$20)
Just as in wine, we all have our own preferences. Our favorites were Rebel Blonde (a smooth ale) and Burning Bridges (double IPA), but there was also a stout and a wheat beer available.
The wine selection remained very similar to the last visit, with a good mix of sweet and dry wines. Our favorite was the Traminette (which is a varietal mix of Gerwurztraminer and Riesling) and the Falcon Red, although even the classically sweet wines were well crafted and not overly sweet.
8440 Singer Rd, North East
Hours: Thursday-Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon-5. Other days by chance or appointment
The big news here is the huge new addition that is just being completed. The view and light are wonderful. There is a beautifully built-in tasting bar with samples of sand from around the world that is fascinating.
The port has changed from our previous visit with the addition of blackberry juice. Our favorites from this visit were the Riesling (a crisp semi-dry version), and the Sunset Blush (a sweeter wine with Steuben grapes and a nice finish).
As always, Cabernet (the winery mascot) along with owners Sam and Becky make the winery a special place to visit.