Ferrante Winery and Ristorante sits in prime northeastern Ohio wine country amid picturesque cornfields and vineyards. Close to Interstate-90, this is one of the larger, more commercial wineries in Ashtabula County and makes a good all-inclusive stop for wine tasting, Italian food and souvenirs.
Named for the family who started the business back in 1937, Ferrante has authenticity in its corner, along with some heavy-hitting awards for ice wines, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer. The atmosphere is Italian-lite, where Frank Sinatra-style standards waft through a large, high-beamed dining room and across a lavish patio dotted with wrought-iron lamps. The music pairs nicely with an upscale food menu full of traditional Italian pizzas, pastas, paninis and a catch of the day. The spaghetti with marinara and mammoth family-recipe meatballs ($11) fills hungry diners, and the chicken and seafood pasta dishes are likewise satisfying. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the cannolis (two for $6).
The vibe at Ferrante isn’t as intimate as at some of the other smaller local wineries where the owner probably serves as the sommelier, bartender and busboy. But Ferrante is a prime example of just how far wine production in this region has come. And because the whole operation stays open year-round, it’s a sure bet in a collection of wineries that offer limited hours and menus.
Don’t miss the festivities during the annual Ice Wine Festival, which takes place the first three Saturdays in March from noon to 5 p.m. The region—usually quite sleepy during the winter months—awakens to sate the cravings of ice wine fanatics. Ferrante warms up its three-season porch with plenty of heaters, then hands out samples of Vidal Blanc ice wine, a carbonated raspberry blanc wine and a sweet and savory peach ice wine-ravioli appetizer. Amid the hubbub of traveling tasters (a hearty handful of local wineries take part in the festival), you’ll find experts pouring wine and answering questions, special deals on bottles to take home, and even a booth featuring grape-themed jewelry.