After our visit to Wyandotte Winery, we asked if there was another winery that we should visit while we were in the Columbus area, and Rockside Vineyards was touted with the remark “they have a great Cabernet Franc.” That is all my Bride had to hear, and we were off on another adventure to Lancaster and about a forty-five minute drive. When we arrived at Rockside Vineyards, it looked more like a small vineyard with arbors on the grounds and structures, including a tasting room.
Rockside Vineyards states that the majority of the grapes used are estate grown or come from Fairfield County in Ohio. They have a mix of grapes that they use, some are classic European and some are “Cold Hardy.” The grapes that they use are; Niagara, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Steuben, Chambourcin, Merlot, Noiret and Chancellor.
At the tasting room, we had the good fortune to meet the owner Ron Rutter, who handled the tasting room duties. He told us a little bit about himself, that he was a retired Air Force officer, and then had been an executive with a company, but the desire to be a wine maker took him from California to Ohio for the next stage of his life.
We sampled the wines that were being offered that day. The Cabernet Franc was the first wine that we tried, as my Bride was eager to try it, as soon as we entered the grounds. Chambourcin, another wine that we tried, which was listed as an Ohio Red Table Wine, and is a French-American hybrid that has an herbal aroma to it, was an interesting choice for me, as it was a new wine for me. Valhalla is an estate grown blend of white varietals that has been aged in oak barrels. Night Flight was a red blend wine of Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Noiret which was a very easy drinking wine. The Noiret varietal was also new to me, and I discovered that it was a hybrid developed at Cornell University, another “Cold Hardy” grape that has as part of its parentage the Steuben grape. We also tried a Rose wine that was made from the Chambourcin grape and had a different taste from what I expected from a Rose, but it was very refreshing and enjoyable. One of the questions that I asked, while I was there and it had escaped my thought process, while I was at Wyandotte Winery, was that I had noticed that there were no vintage year designations on the labels. I was told that since the Central Ohio area had no official appellation that they could not list vintages, but that there was a couple of appellations in Ohio, and that there was a potential to have more designated.
We ended up leaving the winery with a purchase of six bottles to remember our visit. We bought Valhalla, Night Flight, the Cabernet Franc and the Rose wine. As we were leaving to get back to our hotel, to dress for dinner, my Bride was in a very happy mood and glad that we ventured off on our own day trip.