Ohio is home to the second largest Amish settlement in the world. While Amish country has its own charms – horse-drawn carriages crossing towns, haystacks dotting the verdant countryside, delicious home-cooked food and handicrafts – this countryside is also home to a wealth of wineries.
Buckeye State is the sixth largest wine producer in the country and is home to more than 300 wineries statewide. When you combine the attractions of Amish country with the allure of its vineyards, you have a trip that is sure to be not only memorable but also delightful.
That said, with over 19 wineries in the Amish country of Ohio, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide where you want to visit. The sheer size of Amish country also makes it challenging — it spans 3,300 square miles in the east-central part of the state.
To make it easier to plan my itinerary, I chose to keep my tastings close together and close to other tourist attractions in Amish country. Most of the wineries I visited were located on or near State Route 39, which winds through three communities that are popular tourist stops when traveling through the region: Berlin, Walnut Creek, and Sugarcreek.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that most businesses in Amish country are closed on Sundays.
You know, when you hear of a winery with the Winetagous name, it’s going to throw away all the supposed identities of a traditional winery. And this winery does, starting with its location: a small, brick-built mall in the heart of one of Ohio’s most-visited Amish spots, Sugarcreek. Don’t let the exterior fool you, though. You can feel the relaxed and welcoming vibe as soon as you open the front door.
Founded by two married couples (Tammy and Mick, and Heide and Steve) who enjoyed winemaking as a hobby, this intimate and hip winery is open Fridays and Saturdays year-round with live music every Saturday. You can enjoy the entertainment on their surprisingly large outdoor terrace when the weather is nice and inside when the weather is not so nice. While there, I sat on the patio in one of their oversized rocking chairs by a fire pit and listened to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn buggies passing by.
Their wine selection is easily navigated since it is only the four owners who make the wine. There are five wines in total, and all were excellent. I particularly enjoyed their dry red wine called Redemption as well as a sweet concord grape wine called Grapeful. A sample of their peach wine slushie also turned out delicious.
Pro tip: If you prefer a craft beer, ask about their current beer selections. They brew their own beer in small batches and alternate their offerings.
2. Breitenbach Cellars
This family-run, family-run winery dubs itself the “Original Amish Country Winery.” Perched on the side of a hill, Breitenbach is made up of a handful of buildings painted royal purple and red. Sloping roofs, ornate building details, gold accents and a castle turret-like testing lab make this winery more akin to the setting of a magical fairy tale than a vineyard.
Their wines, however, are the real magic. They produce around 40 wines that range from sweet to dry and even include a tawny port. I tasted several varieties and had a hard time choosing just one wine that I liked the most because they were all tasty. Roadhouse Red is a go-to choice for a semi-sweet red wine. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice for a dry wine. In the sampling room, I tried their red raspberry sweet wine and enjoyed it as well.
The nearby Amish community provides them with an unusual ingredient for one of their wines: dandelions. It’s the only place I know of in Ohio that produces dandelion wine – a sweet, pale yellow, delicately delicious wine. The first weekend in May is their annual Dandelion May Festival which features dandelion wine (along with their other wines), dandelion food, cooking demonstrations, and dandelion arts and crafts. In addition to their annual festival, they offer regular activities like an indoor cafe, an outdoor BBQ for dining on their patio, and live music.
3. Silver Moon Vineyard
Originally it was an educational winery to teach people how to make their own wine. Silver Moon Winery is now a destination winery that focuses on producing over 40 different styles of wine. This cozy winery makes you feel right at home with friendly staff helping you with wine tasting and always taking the time to educate you.
Their selections range from fruit-infused wines to white and red wines to dessert wines that have tantalizing names like Chocolate Cherry Dream and Pumpkin Spice Dream. I spoke with the winery manager, Melissa Wigfield, about the best way to select a wine, and she recommended their best-selling wine, Starry White. “Although it’s a sweet wine, it has a freshness that seems to appeal to almost everyone,” she said. She also mentioned that their wine slushies are another consistent customer favorite.
You can uncork and sip your newly discovered favorite wine inside the cellar at one of the many small tables, sink into the deep chocolate brown leather chairs like I did, or enjoy your wine at the outside on the front patio.
4. Sunny Slope Wine Cellar
While the building that houses Sunny Slope Winery has been owned by the same family since 1927, the winery that occupies this space is certainly not your aunt’s wine shop. A former country market, deli, and gas station, Sunny Slope Winery’s attitude is slightly rebellious to the emphasis associated with winemaking — and it also gives a wistful nod to its grocery store past.
The exterior of the winery is rustic in the solitary sense of the word, but once inside you are surrounded by an eclecticism and a warmth that can only come from family pride and the love of craftsmanship. The interior, once filled with aisles of grocery shelves, is now filled with a bustling wine bar whose counter extends to an antique dresser. Red metal chairs and tables with thick wooden tops fill the central area, leaving enough room near the front door for a live performer to sing along to the crowd.
And of course, you can’t miss the deli counter. Stocked with the expected meats and cheeses, as well as ready-to-go sandwiches, slices of cake and platters of veggies, you can’t help but wonder how many customers come in for quick groceries 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 which is a constant customer favourite. Slap, a sweet red wine, is also a favorite among customers. Its namesake comes from a neighbor’s frank but enthusiastic review after tasting it. “It’s so good it makes you want to slap your mom,” 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 favorite is River Rat, a sweet red wine that leaves a light cotton candy aftertaste.
Pro tip: If you’d rather watch the game than drink wine, grab a snack and sit in one of the leather armchairs or recline on the gray sofa that faces the 75-inch wall-mounted TV above. the fireplace. They will activate the game for you. Or you can play one of the board games they have stacked next to the TV.
5. Ugly Bunny Vineyard
Named after a pet bunny that was, well, on the unattractive side of cute, Ugly Bunny Winery opened in 2017 and is a favorite gathering spot for locals and out-of-towners alike. At the western end of Amish country, it sits amid rolling hills with its vineyard in plain sight from the front door. Its large sample room and adjoining small TV room provide several indoor seating options. Outdoor seating is on their spacious side deck at picnic tables covered with umbrellas and under strings of outdoor lights. They regularly present a regular schedule of live music from April to December.
Everything is done on site: the growing and aging of the grapes as well as the transformation of the grapes into the reds and whites they serve. I tasted their rosé named Tickled Pink, their dry red wine called 1814 and their top selling sweet red wine called Down the Rabbit Hole. All were tasty and quite drinkable, my favorite being a draw between 1814 and Down the Rabbit Hole.
Editor’s note: The facts and figures mentioned in the first paragraph of this article come from this resource from the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College.
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