This is Part I of our “Wine Down Wednesday” series highlighting Ohio wineries. Check out all Ohio wineries by clicking here.
It had been several years since my last visit to Rockside Winery, then just in its infancy. Now more mature, like some of the wines they produce, the winery had a parking lot full of cars making me wonder what could possibly be going on at this early time of the day. Yes, I knew that live music happened on every Saturday starting at 5pm, but it was just 5pm and already the place was packed. Also on Saturday, a food truck provides nourishment to guests. As with the musicians, the food trucks rotate; BBQ was the offering for this day.
Rockside is just a few miles outside of Lancaster. The rolling hills with distant views of expansive farmland dotted with barns conjures images of a Grandma Moses scene. Closer in my viewing range are the neat rows of grapes, 4.5 acres of them that include varieties like Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, Chamourcin, Niagara and Corot Noir.
I enter and find Brad Fuller already playing and playing music that I relate to. I immediately feel at home here and search for a seat. The buzz is palpable and I notice couples and small groups settled at tables with either bottles or glasses of wine being imbibed.
A tasting menu is a good place to start for assistance in choosing a red or white variety. I find an open area near the bar and notice an open seat. The friendly patrons smile and I ask the gentleman next to me for suggestions. Noting a choice of about 10 Wines, I briefly consider a flight, but decide instead on the recommended red.
It’s no surprise that so many flock here. I immediately feel comfortable; Brian, the general manager, shares that most of the wines are made using the grapes from the vineyard, but some types require juice from other vineyards. I slowly sip my wine and linger longer because I was waiting for a song that I didn’t like to be played. But that never happened, so I forced myself to leave this comfortable and calm spot, vowing to return again to this family-owned vineyard where customers leave as friends.