Photos by OHventures
There are a lot of hidden hotspots - including alpacas - tucked away in the rolling Appalachian foothills of Southeast-Central Ohio. One of the best ways in which you can experience this area is by taking a day-trip on the Three Rivers Wine Trail. Make sure you have a designated driver in tow, because there is a lot of wine to be had on the trail! There are 4 major wineries that can be found within a 15-minute drive of one another: Raven's Glenn Winery, Rainbow Hills Winery, the Yellow Butterfly Winery (home of the alpacas, which we will get to later), and Heritage Vineyards.
It being my birth-month (when you turn 30, you're allowed to celebrate all month), I wanted to whet my whistle with some new Ohio wines. The Three Rivers Wine Trail is located just over an hour south of where I live (straight down 77S from Canton). It was a clear blue Saturday afternoon, and we were set to cram in all of the wineries in just a few hours. You can easily spend a couple of days on the winery tour in Coshocton County, especially with great lodging.
Our first stop was Raven's Glenn, a Tuscan-style winery and Italian restaurant where every meal can be paired with the perfect wine. In fact, a great wine-buddy of mine, Rick, told me we needed to stop here for food (which is why we made it our first stop, to make sure we had a good base of good food in our bellies). There are usually private wine tours available (you must call ahead for reservations), but since that was not offered on the day we went, we went straight to the tasting room to order some flights!
When I am at an Ohio winery, I tend to try the wines that are made with Ohio grapes, if possible. An entire flight - "Vintner's Reserve" - was available with exactly that! I tried the White October (honey-citrus taste), Autumn Interlude (pineapple/grapefruit undertones), Vino Della Casa (an off dry red that can be served chilled or warm), R2 (a dry red with licorice tones), Moon Dreams (a very jammy finish with high alcohol content and fantastic bottle art), Sonata Evening (wine port), Scarlet Raven (red port), and Vidal Blanc (ice wine). I took home a bottle of Moon Dreams!
The dining experience was just as tasty as the wine. In fact, there was red zinfandel marinara sauce on my lasagna order. The red zin marinara also accompanied the yummy fried oysters appetizers I scarfed down (pictured above).
The restaurant had large open windows facing the Tuscawaras River. It was pretty darn gorgeous, I must say. We spent a LOT of time at Raven's Glenn, which shows how much of a fan we are.
Before heading to the next winery, we stopped at the Unusual Junction located right across the street. It caught our eye because of the old train cars outside. The best way to describe this place is that it is, for lack of better terms, an "unusual junction"! It's a gift shop that you just have to see for yourself!
Moving on, we headed to Rainbow Hills, which is way off the beaten path in a gorgeous wooded area. Here, you can stay overnight at the Inn at Rainbow Hills Bed & Breakfast. Or, you can just stop in for a few samples of wine accompanied by cheese plates while sitting on spacious wooden decks. In summer, they have barbecue nights where you can grill your own steak and chicken! American grape and French hybrid varieties are grown and used for producing high quality wine. I took home a bottle of Drumming Grouse, my favorite of the bunch we tried.
Time was flying by and our stay at Rainbow Hills had to be cut short so we could make it to The Yellow Butterfly Winery. There was no mistaking the big bright yellow barn plastered against the lush green countryside. It was cheerful, inviting, and enchanting. The barn is almost 100 years old, with a deck overlooking the Blue Ridge foothills. Adjacent to the barn is the Yellow Butterfly BNB, which was also another lodging option if we were to have chosen to stay the night.
We were rather "wined out" by this time, but I couldn't pass up sampling at least a few of their top sellers. They have a lot of fruity varieties, such as Apple Delight, Blackberry Butterfly, Golden Apricot, and Passionate Peach. After all of that sweetness, I needed to taste a dry red - so I ordered their Grande Red to enjoy on the patio.
In the back is where you can normally find their alpacas grazing on the hillsides. It was too early in the season for us to see them for ourselves, but my fascination with these weird looking creatures will surely bring me back soon. In lieu of seeing alpacas firsthand, I bought a rug made out of 100% Ohio alpaca fur! It was too hard to pass up!
Unfortunately, it became too late in the evening to head to the Heritage Vineyards, however, this just gives us one more excuse to come back in the summer for another round of the Three Rivers Wine Trail in Coshocton County!