The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake

Sunset view Lodge at Geneva on the Lake Hotel

In need of a getaway? For a lovely weekend trip discover The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, just an easy 2 hour drive from Pittsburgh. With breathtaking views of Lake Erie this hotel, located in Northeast Ohio Wine Country, is the ultimate relaxing retreat. Beyond the picturesque location, Geneva-on-the-Lakes’s main attraction is the almost two dozen wineries in the area. Who knew Ohio had a wine country?! Guest can hop on a wine tour bus to explore the local wineries, an activity great for couples, or a bachelorette weekend.

  

 

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to stay at the resort and partake in the wine tour! I really enjoyed the weekend stay, and can’t wait to return again.

The hotel is welcoming and appears to have been recently updated. The room I stayed in was spacious and well equipped for a comfortable stay. The cozy in-room fireplace had me dreaming of returning again in winter!

As far as amenities there is a small general store on site, a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, along with a full-size bar. They have both and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as a gym. You can explore the grounds along the lakeside path, there’s even bikes fun cruiser bikes for rent.  If you need more space during your stay, there are brand new cottages for rent on the property with porches and shared fire pits.

 

The wine bus shuttle hosted by the lodge is a convenient and fun way to get out and explore wine country. I really enjoyed having a worry-free way to take in the wineries. The bus tour included 4 stops, with at least an hour at each winery. The shuttles are advertised as routes with specific stops, but it turns out the driver stops wherever taking requests from the patrons or going wherever has capacity that day. I was disappointment at first. I had spent time researching which route I wanted to take based on the winery stops. Overall I still had a good time at the wineries we were able to attend.

Check out the wineries I explored here in this post.

For a peek into my adventures, check out the video below. It’s an export of my Instagram Stories from my stay and wine tour day.

 

My Saturday night lodge stay included dinner and brunch at the lodge’s restaurant, Horizon’s Restaurant & Lounge. The dinner meals and dining experience were nice, nothing to rave about. Brunch is a self-serve buffet with lots to choose from. Honestly most items were underwhelming. Overall its nice to have a restaurant with lots of choice on site, but don’t be expecting much.

The lake setting is the main attraction to this lodge.  I’d definitely recommend escaping to the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Sometimes all we need is a little reset in a relaxing environment, this lodge is perfect for that.

Disclosure: this trip was sponsored by the Lodge at Geneva on the Lake. All opinions are my own, honest review without influence.

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Ohio’s Wine Country, Grand River Valley Wine Tour

Did you know that Ohio has a beautiful, picturesque, lakeside wine country? Well fellow Pittsburgh-area, wine-lovers get your weekend bags packed! We don’t have to board a plane to Napa to immerse ourselves in wine country, its just a short drive away along Lake Erie, Ohio.

The Grand River Valley area of Ohio surprisingly has thriving grape growing conditions. The limestone in the soil apparently helps grape trees flourish. I was recently invited to stay the The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, and adventure on a wine shuttle bus tour. The winery hopping experience here is quaint and unpretentious, just relaxing and fun!

Read a post covering my lovely stay at the lodge here.

Visitors can hop on one of many wine tour buses to explore the local wineries, a activity great for couples, or a bachelorette weekend. My bus was hosted by the lodge, joining me was a mix of retired couples and a rowdy bachelorette party (so be warned, you may have a lively bunch along for the ride haha). Expect to pay for wine samples, as giving away alcohol in Ohio for free/as complimentary is apparently illegal.

Kosicek Vineyards

Our route’s first stop was Kosicek Vineyards a family-owned 3rd generation vineyard. The setting here truly feels like you’re in a wine region with the tasting room set back on land surrounded by rows of grape trees. The tasting room has both indoor and outdoor seating and games. I loved the fun wine-bottle chandelier and light fixtures across the interior.

The wine samples at Kosicek are $1 each, $3 for the ice wines. I sampled all of their sweet varietals (of course), really enjoying the Dam Red. I took a bottle home with me for only $10! I also enjoyed a local cheese plate, sustenance is important when you’ve got a long of wine drinking ahead 🙂

Debonne Vineyard

The second winery stop was to the Debonne Vineyard. Debonne is very popular, as its the largest estate winery in the region with 175 acres of grapes. There’s also a micro-brewery onsite, which is great if there’s any beer drinkers in your group. The place is more casual than I was expecting for a winery, but there’s plenty of outdoor seating, food options and a live band.

At Debonne a choice of several tasting trays are available for $10.00 each (Premium $12.00) and include a souvenir glass, bottled water, crackers and almonds or chocolate. Each tray contains your choice of 6 to 8 different wines. Individual wine samples are $1.00 and Ice Wine and Cask samples are $2.00.

I really enjoyed the wines here, they had so many fruit and sweet options. My tasting tray the “Sweet Wine Selection,” included their Vidal Blanc, Moscato-Riesling, Classic Rosé, White Catawba, Pink Catawba, Peach Tree Grigio, Strawberry Rosé, Blueberry Noir. I couldn’t decide what was my favorite. I ended up purchasing a bottle of the Moscato-Riesling and the Peach Tree Grigio, but I also really loved the Catawba varieties.

Laurentia Winery

Next on our tour was a stop at the beautiful Laurentia winery. This is a very upscale winery. The tasting room is beautiful set on a small lake with beautiful landscaping. The fine finishings throughout the interior create a stately vibe. The wine list is smaller here, with no sweet or fruit options. They have whats called a “wine club” which is basically an exclusivity thing, giving more options to those that are members (like at a golf club). This would be a beautiful spot for wedding. The space reminds me a bit of my favorite Canton, Ohio winery Gervasi.

Laurentia Winery

I sat outside on the stone porch and enjoyed sampled the 2016 Estate Riesling, and the 2016 Estate Gewurztraminer (I think they were $2 each). I didn’t like either, but did enjoy the flatbread I ordered. The overall vibe here is definitely different than the more low-key, fun stops previously on the tour. I enjoyed relaxing by the lake, but would have liked more choice in wine options.

 

Ferrante Winery

The final stop on our tour was to Ferrante Winery and Ristorante. This was the biggest spot we visited, as far as size and amount of people. The wine sample trays were really fun, with plenty of fruit and sweet wines to sample. I tried the “Specialty Wine” tray with, Holiday Blush, Celebration Spice, Raspberry Blanc, Cranberry Blanc, Blueberry Blanc, 2016 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Sparkling Riesling and Sparkling Raspberry Blanc.

There’s a full restaurant on the property which I didn’t get to try, but heard was good. The outdoor space has a live band and a fountain. At this point in the day, the clouds had cleared and the sun was out, so I ended my wine tour with a citrus sangria.

 

If you love wine, or love fun I would suggest trying hoping on a wine tour in the Grand River Valley region of Ohio, aka wine country!  Let me know if you’re going, I might (most definitely) want to tag along 😉

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Wines to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is near! Whether you reject the day as commercialized nonsense, or take advantage of an official day to celebrate love – there’s no stopping it Valentine’s Day is upon us! The stores are full with chocolates, stuffed animals, and heart-shaped everything.

I believe, that regardless of relationship status, everyone can enjoy a special bottle of wine! So what’s the best drink to share or indulgence in alone, as a treat? I’m sharing some of my favorite sweet wines to enjoy for Valentine’s Day, no matter who you’re celebrating with.

Bubbly Pink Moscato by Barefoot

This pink moscato pick by Barefoot Wine is actually a sweet champagne, perfect for special occasions. It is very bubbly and deliciously sweet, with flavors of berries and citrus. Bonus – it comes in cute little single serving bottles, fun for sharing with Galetine’s or out on a picnic!

Sparkling Rosé by Cupcake Vineyards

Cupcake Sparkling Rosé offers delightful flavors of raspberry and strawberry with delicate floral notes. It’s not my normal indulgence, as it is an off-dry rosé, but it has an easy finish. Overall this is a fun pick for the  sort of sweet drinker.

Stella Rosso by Stella Rosa

Rosso offers the perfect bit of sweetness and is just a tad bubbly. It is a deep red, slightly sweet and smooth, with noticeable hints of berry. Check out my other favorite wines by Stella Rosa.

Red Velvet by Cupcake Vineyards

It may not be actual cake, but this red wine is just as much of an indulgence. Red Velvet wine is a silky red blend with notes of cherry, blackberry, chocolate and mocha. Its intense and has a strong finish. I prefer this wine chilled.

Presentation Counts

For that extra romantic flourish (necessary) present your wine in a decorated glass. I decked mine out with vanilla icing and festive sprinkles.  It is a mushy, over-the-top day, might as well go for it!

Whether you love or loathe the holiday, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to spread love ❤ I’m also excited to share a few handmade Valentine’s Day decoration pieces I’ve made to help celebrate. I am a true romantic, so I do love this holiday – hope you’re inspired to spread the love this year!

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Pittsburgh’s Urban Winery, R Wine Cellar

R Wine Cellar Urban Winery

R Wine Cellar is a family-owned urban winery with a quaint shop located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. They focus on creating wines with grapes grown in Pennsylvania, California, and South America. I recently enjoyed a fun afternoon exploring their wines when I stopped into the strip store for a complementary tasting.

 

R Wine Cellar produces a wide variety of wines including three fun specialty wines a peach chardonnay, red spiced wine, and an apple spiced white wine.

Fiona Peach Chardonnay

My favorite R Cellar wine that I tasted was a fresh and fruity wine with hints of peach and apricot. The fruit creates the sweet, and the Chardonnay adds a and crisp finish.

Next time you visit the Strip District, I would encourage you to stop into R Wine Cellar’s charming store. I enjoyed chatting with the owner and tasting their wines. Cheers!

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Local Pittsburgh Winery, La Vigneta

La Vigneta Winery is a Pittsburgh homemade wine business owned in part by a friend of mine, Francesca. She makes moscato so she’s my friend. Just kidding shes a fabulous lady, I admire for going after her dreams! You can now find this La Vigneta wine all over farmer’s markets in the Pittsburgh area, but the business was grown from a first batch made in a Pittsburgh basement.

Francesca’s Dad taught her about homemade wine making. Owning a catering business he experimented with making wine in his Greensburg home in glass car boys. He’s originally from Alia, Sicily. This is where he learned to make wine in an authentic, old-fashioned way!

In 2013 Francesca was inspired by how good the homemade wine was and ordered a batch of pressed juice from California. With her Dad’s help Francesca started making wine in her Brookline home’s basement in. May 10th 2013 was their first day selling together at a Mt. Lebanon farmers market.

Creating their first batch of Petite Sirah, a dry red wine and now their most popular red wine a Sangiovese. The later was actually not what they intended to create they accidentally ordered it! They created 30 cases this first season. The first commercial batch sold featured the same wine base 3 different ways, sold as dry, semi dry and sweet, starting their wine experimentation.

An Italian family member helped name the wine business. La vigneta means the little vineyard in Italian. There’s a small town in Tuscany called Vigneta with hotel called Hotel Il Grotto. This is someplace Francesca hopes to visit one day to celebrate the success of their homegrown wines.

Now they create anywhere from 8-12 wines based on the season. Their moscato is their number one selling white wine! They use it in an apple pie cocktail, using other local proprietor Paul Family Farms maple syrup!

Francesca and her family have also added to the excitement, moving to a 17 acre farm in Sarver PA. They plan to continue expansion, with a tasting room open to the public. On the property they grow grapes and blueberries and are renovating a beautiful old farmhouse. They have plenty to celebrate being slated to sell over 7,000 bottles of wine this year!

Next time you’re at a local farmer’s market make sure to look out for the La Vigneta Winery booth to try their delicous wine. You can La Vignetta at local wine festivals all around the Pittsburgh area, like we the Ligonier Country Market every Saturday. La Vignetta is giving me another reason to look forward to the upcoming Fort Ligonier Days festival!

I know what I'm doing this weekend @lavignetawinery

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