In the drink: Celebrate grape harvest in Lake Erie Wine Country




On its two upcoming Harvest Celebration Weekends — Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 10-12 — Lake Erie Wine Country invites people to stop in for a bite and a sip at their choice of two dozen wineries. 

One is Yori Wine Cellars, a new member of the 50-mile lakeside group between Harborcreek, Pa, and Silver Creek, N.Y.

The North East, Pa., winemaker (www.yoriwinecellars.com) has a cozy tasting room with exposed-brick walls and a rough-hewn, lumber-topped bar on Lake Street, adjacent to the Yori family’s casual Italian eatery, Michael’s Restaurant & Pizzeria. 

They started the restaurant in a nearby residential area 30 years ago and moved to this location in 2000. The winery, which they started in the basement of their nearby farmhouse, officially opened in August. The family planted 15 varieties of wine grapes on their 8 acres and now are turning them into two dozen wines. The winery is run by owners Michael and Lynn Yori and their three daughters: Mikaela Yori, Kariann Yori and Allison Yori. Lynn’s dad, William Spellman, who farms mostly juice grapes over the border in New York, helps in the vineyard.

“It’s all just family,” said Mr. Yori. And except for the grapes, it’s all right here, as they pump their juice up to the second floor, where they ferment and bottle it, to be sold on site. His girls, who range in age from 19 to 28, help out around their college classes and day jobs. 

The Yoris finished harvest last weekend. Thanks to the extended warm weather, it was “probably one of the best growing years we’ve had in 20 years,” he said.

You should be able to taste it in some of their two dozen wines, which is a lot to start business with, but they wanted something for everyone’s taste.

“We wanted to go big or go home,” he added with a laugh. 

The two top sellers are Isabella, a sweet, fruity pink, and Beach Glass Red, which is made with 50 percent Isabella grapes. The best-selling of seven dry reds is Cabernet Franc. A very popular white is the Traminette.  

For each Harvest Celebration Weekend, participating wineries will offer guests pairings of wine and food. The Yoris are serving their Traminette with Concord Grape Apple Crisp made by Mrs. Yori, who uses the milled pulp of hand-picked Concords to make the local delicacy known as Concord grape pie. 

They’re looking forward to their first big wine trail event, he says. They’re used to crowds in the restaurant, where diners must go next-door to buy bottles and bring them back to their table. Mr. Yori says they might eventually do the paperwork to change that, but in the meantime, customers “don’t seem to mind to get up and go over and try some samples.” The restaurant will be open for both Harvest Celebration weekends. 

Food-wine pairings range from the savory — Golden Winter Squash Soup with Parmesan Sage Toasts served with Holism wine at Sensory Winery — to sweet — Pumpkin Pie Bites with Spiced Whipped Cream with Vignoles at Mazza Chautauqua Cellars. Back under new management for the event is Woodbury Vineyards Winery in Fredonia, N.Y., where guests can try Pineapple Chicken Tenders with Seaport White. 

Liberty Vineyards Winery, serving Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Diamond Select, also will offer gluten-free bites. Noble Winery, serving Pete’s Perfect Pulled Pork with Seyval Blanc de Blanc or Chautauqua Eve wine, also will offer a vegetarian and gluten-free treat. 

Tickets for the Harvest Celebration Weekends are $38 per person and are good for all three days of each weekend. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. If you only want to come on Friday or Sunday or both, tickets are $28. Designated drivers enjoy everything but the wine tastings for $20. Participants pick up their tickets at one of a half dozen host wineries. For more information, go to the events section of the website: www.lakeeriewinecountry.org.  

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.





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