Ohio is home to the second-largest Amish settlement in the world. While Amish Country holds its own charms — horse-drawn carriages traversing through towns, haystacks dotting the green countryside, homemade delicious foods, and handcrafted items — this countryside is also home to a multitude of wineries.
The Buckeye State is the sixth-largest producer of wine in the country and home to over 300 wineries across the entire state. When you combine the attractions of Amish Country with the appeal of its wineries, you have a trip that is sure to be not only memorable but delicious as well.
That said, with over 19 wineries in Ohio’s Amish Country, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide where you want to visit. The sheer size of Amish Country makes it difficult as well — it spreads out over 3,300 square miles in the east-central part of the state.
To make it easier to plan my route, I chose to keep my tastings close together and near other Amish Country tourist attractions. Most of the wineries I visited were located either on or close to State Route 39, which winds its way through three communities that are popular tourist stops when traveling the area: Berlin, Walnut Creek, and Sugarcreek.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that most businesses in Amish Country are closed on Sunday.
You know when you hear a winery with the name Winetagous, it’s going to toss out all the assumed identities of a traditional winery. And this winery does indeed do that, starting with its location: a little brick strip mall located in the heart of one of Ohio’s most visited Amish locations, Sugarcreek. Don’t let the exterior fool you, though. You can feel the laid-back, welcoming vibe as soon as you pull open the front door.
Started by two married couples (Tammy and Mick, and Heide and Steve) who enjoyed wine-making as a hobby, this intimate, trendy winery is open on Fridays and Saturdays year-round with live music every Saturday. You can enjoy the entertainment on their surprisingly large outdoor patio when the weather is good and indoors when the weather is not so kind. While I was there, I sat on the patio in one of their oversized rocking chairs close to a fire pit and listened to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn buggies as they drove by.
Their wine selection is easily navigable since it is just the four owners who make the wine. There are five wines in total, and all of them were excellent. I especially enjoyed their dry red wine called Redemption as well as a sweet concord grape wine called Grapeful. A sample taste of their peach wine slushie proved delicious as well.
Pro Tip: If you prefer a craft beer, ask about their current beer selections. They brew their own beer in small batches and rotate their offerings.
2. Breitenbach Wine Cellars
This family-owned, family-run wine cellar dubs itself the “original Amish Country winery.” Perched on the side of a hill, Breitenbach is composed of a handful of buildings painted in royal purple and red. Steepled rooftops, ornate building details, gold accents, and a testing laboratory in the shape of a castle turret make this winery feel more like the setting of a magical fairy tale than a vineyard.
Their wines, however, are the real magic. They produce about 40 wines that range from sweet to dry and even include a tawny port. I sampled several varieties and found it difficult to choose a single wine I liked the most because they were all tasty. The Roadhouse Red is a can’t-fail choice for a semi-sweet red wine. Their cabernet sauvignon is a great go-to for a dry wine. While in the sampling room, I tried their sweet Red Raspberry wine and enjoyed it as well.
The nearby Amish community provides them with an unusual ingredient for one of their wines — dandelions. This is the only place I know in Ohio that produces dandelion wine — a sweet, pale yellow wine that is delicately delicious. The first weekend in May is their annual Dandelion May fest which features dandelion wine (as well as their other wines), dandelion food, cooking demonstrations, and dandelion arts and crafts. In addition to their once-a-year festival, they offer regular features like an indoor cafe, an outdoor barbeque shed for dining on their patio, and live music.
3. Silver Moon Winery
Originally started as an educational winery to teach people how to make their own wine, Silver Moon Winery is now a wine destination that focuses on producing over 40 different wine styles. This cozy winery makes you feel right at home with friendly staff who help you with wine tasting and still take the time to educate you.
Their selections range from fruit-infused wines to white and red wines to dessert wines that sport tantalizing names like Chocolate Cherry Dream and Pumpkin Spice Dream. I talked with the winery’s manager Melissa Wigfield about the best way to go about selecting a wine, and she recommended their best-selling wine, Starry White. “While it is a sweet wine, it has a crispness to it that seems to appeal to just about everyone,” she said. She also mentioned their wine slushies are another consistent customer favorite.
You can uncork and sip your newly discovered favorite wine inside the winery at one of several small tables, sink into the deep chocolate brown leather chairs like I did, or enjoy your wine outside on the front patio.
4. Sunny Slope Winery
While the building that houses Sunny Slope Winery has been in the same family since 1927, the winery that takes up this space is definitely not your auntie’s wine shop. A former old country market, deli, and gas station, Sunny Slope Winery’s attitude is one that is slightly rebellious toward the pompousness associated with winemaking — and it also yields a wistful nod to its grocery store past.
The outside of the winery is rustic in the lonely highway sense of the word, but once inside, you are surrounded by an eclecticness and warmth that can come only from family pride and love of craft. The interior, once filled with aisles of grocery shelves, now is filled with a vibrant wine bar whose counter stretches out to end at an antique chest of drawers. Red metal chairs and tables with thick, wooden tops fill the middle area, leaving enough room near the front door for a live performer to sing to the crowd.
And of course, you can’t miss the deli counter. Stocked with the expected meats and cheeses, plus ready-to-go sandwiches, cake slices, and veggie trays, you can’t help but wonder how many customers come in for a quick grocery run and sit down for a glass of wine instead.
Owners Tom and Tara Bright maintain a standard menu of sweet and dry red and white wines, a sweet blush wine, and an elderberry wine that is one of the customer’s consistent favorites. Slap, a sweet red wine, is also a favorite among customers. Its namesake originated from a neighbor’s blunt but enthusiastic review after sampling it. “It’s so good it makes you wanna slap your mama”, he reportedly said.
Seasonal wines such as Strawberry Wine, Watermelon Crawl, and a blueberry wine called Holmes County Blues are available throughout the year. My personal favorite is River Rat, a sweet red wine that leaves an ever-so-slight aftertaste of cotton candy.
Pro Tip: If you would rather watch the game than drink wine, then grab yourself a snack and sit down in one of the leather chairs or stretch out on the gray couch that faces the 75-inch wall-mounted TV above the fireplace. They’ll turn the game on for you. Or you can play one of the board games they have stacked next to the TV.
5. Ugly Bunny Winery
Named after a pet rabbit that was, well, on the unattractive side of cute, Ugly Bunny Winery opened in 2017 and is a favorite gathering spot for both locals and out of towners. On the western edge of Amish Country, it sits amid rolling hills with its vineyard in full view of the front door. Its large sampling room and adjacent smaller TV room offer several options for indoor seating. Outdoor seating is on their spacious side deck at umbrella-covered picnic tables and under strings of outdoor lights. They regularly feature a steady calendar of live music from April through December.
Everything is done onsite: cultivation and growing of the grapes as well as the processing of the grapes into the reds and white they serve. I sampled their rosé named Tickled Pink, their dry red wine called 1814, and their best-selling sweet red wine called Down the Rabbit Hole. All of them were tasty and quite drinkable with my favorite being a toss-up between 1814 and Down the Rabbit Hole.
Editor’s Note: Facts and figures mentioned in the first paragraph of this article are sourced from this Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College resource.
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