A recent lazy afternoon in Southern Ohio gave us an opportunity to visit two local gems in a place called Shade. Shade Winery is a great place to take a picnic lunch, get a bottle or two of wine and spend an afternoon.
We arrived just as owner Neal Dicks was putting the chalkboard sign out front and opening the doors for business.
Just inside the door is a tasting bar where Neal and his wife, Oui set us up for a full tasting – 14 wines! We began with whites – two Vidal Blancs, a deliciously light and fruity Cuckoo Traminette, Refresh Reisling. The Multiflora Rose Chambourcin was crisp and not as invasive as the name suggests! Then on to Spiral Cabernet Franc (amazing!), Red Shoulder Corot Noir made from a hybrid grape variety I had not heard of, Kestrel Chambourcin and Elderberry. Their Ridge Red Chambourcin is most like Buckeye Red where I work at Quarry Hill Winery, in Berlin Heights. Not a fan of sweet wines, I wasn’t wild about Dream Pink Catawba or Bobcat Blush Niagara but I know some college students who would lap it up! Go Bobcats! The Cricket Legs Concord was a good juicy concord, but the last tasting – a sparkling wine Neal calls Schnuckelputz – was a pure surprise. It tasted a little like a ginger beer and is made with organic sugar, organic ginger and organic lemons! Yum!
A nice arrangement of high and low tables inside offer seating for about 45 people, but we were more interested in getting outside onto the nice deck.
We chose a bottle of Cuckoo wine and purchased a wedge of Tomme goat cheese from Integration Acres and a package of ramp crackers made by Crumbs Bakery. I had never heard of Tomme cheese, which is a French style low fat content cheese named for Tomme de Savoie from Savoie in the French Alps. It was delicious and even better with the flat and faintly oniony crisps.
Next time we will plan ahead, bring some of the family and make use of the two gas grills that Neal has down the hill for picnickers to use.
Neal checked on us frequently, offering lots of information about his grapes and philosophy of wine making. His best commentary was “Beer brings you solace, wine brings you hope and water – bacteria”. As our bottle was empty, he asked if we had ever been to nearby Dancing Tree Distillery. After making a quick phone call to the distillery on our behalf, he told us a tour group associated with the Athens 30 Mile Meal Conference was about to begin, and he told them we would be on our way.
Who knew this little gem was tucked along the side of the road! Distiller Kelly Sauber founded Dancing Tree Distillery in 2011 with the intent to make exceptional local spirits. He conducted a informative tour of his small operation for our group.
Kelly makes vodka, gin, whiskey and specialty spirits crafted 100% on premises from near-at-hand grains, fruits, herbs, and roots imparting flavors and styles uniquely Appalachian.
After the tour and detailed Q & A, we went inside the house next door for our tasting. Kelly led us into a beautiful kitchen and there we sampled. First the Spicebush Gin, an award winning spirit flavored with juniper, spice bush, and rose hips. I like gin and I really liked this flavorful, piney gin. Then two vodkas – one grain based and one made with vidal grape pomace. An interesting flavored vodka that would make a killer cocktail. Finally, we tasted the coffee liqueur that was sweet on the tongue and had me thinking of dessert recipes for the bottle we would undoubtedly buy.