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Annual two-day festival to showcase Ohio wine, food, and music

It is called the Great Lakes Plains (GLP). Prime real estate; this is a fertile strip of land that starts at the shoreline and extends inland along the Great Lakes from Wisconsin to Ohio.

In northeastern Ohio it stretches about ten miles south from the banks of the Lake Erie then this fertile lowland widens as it rolls west until it is more than fifty miles wide in the Maumee Valley.

Similar soil and climate conditions also exist in bordering Pennsylvania and northwestern New York State.

These rolling lowlands in northeast Ohio, northern Pennsylvania and New York offer perfect conditions for the cultivation of a wide range of the Vitis plant Miles of neatly tended rows of grape vines can be seen as your travel the highways and byways of this regional wine country.

Wine is produced throughout much of Ohio but the experts consider that the northeast Ohio vintages are the state’s best.

The expert’s point of view attributes the GLP as a major factor. Ohio has frequently been ranked in the top 5 of best domestic wine both by taste and quality.

California and New York State lead the field while the Pacific Northwest, Virginia and North Carolina are also producing some outstanding vintages.

Let’s get back to the “Buckeye” state and Vintage Ohio. This is an annual two-day festival that showcases Ohio wine, food, and music.

The event held Aug. 6 and 7 at Lake County’s Metroparks’ Farmpark just east of Cleveland, features wine samples, Ohio food vendors, craft exhibits and demonstrations, and food samples from area restaurants.

More than 30 Ohio wineries, including Chalet Debonne and Old Mill Winery, are participating in the 2010 event. Wineries will offer samples as well as wine to purchase by the glass, bottle, and case. Last century I had the pleasure of visiting these two venues and it was wonderful.

A dozen plus restaurants from all around the Cleveland metro area are on the schedule for 2010. They will be offering small samples of their fare for sale. In addition, a number of Ohio food manufacturers will have exhibits at the event.

Another event highlight is the Loretta Paganini Cooking School which has 14 different culinary presentations. Local chefs will prepare dishes incorporating seasonal Ohio ingredients. According to show organizers this will show attendees how to pare delicious foods with the right wines will enhance both flavors and create a marriage made in heaven.

In addition to the wine and food, Vintage Ohio will feature live entertainment on two stages, wine and craft demonstrations, and dozens of craft exhibitors.

Vintage Ohio is open both days from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $25 in advance and $27 at the gate for a wine sampler ticket that includes a logo souvenir glass, wine samples, and wine for purchase by the glass.

A two-day wine-sampler ticket is also available for $40 and designated driver/non-drinker tickets are $10 (without the wine glass). Children 3-18 are $3 each and children 2 and under are free. Visit www.visitvintageohio.com to order tickets.

Personally I’d make a weekend out of this event and sample some of the other wonderful attractions that Lake County has to offer. Leave early Friday morning and return to the south coast on Sunday.

Here are a few of my North Coast favorites.

Mentor’s Lawnfield is the home of the 20th president, James A Garfield.

He purchased it in 1876 and renovated in 1880 and again in 1885-86. Today it features Garfield’s presidential memorial library and his private study as well as many original furnishings and memorabilia belonging to the Garfield family. A fireproof vault is a highlight.

The visitor center, built as a carriage house in 1893, features permanent exhibits illustrating Garfield’s life and career plus a short video. Additional outbuildings to examine include the campaign office, a barn and a chicken coop.

A special treat Lawnfield treat on Friday evening Aug. 6 is the Old Village Market. Locally grown produce, arts and crafts, food and other products are for sale by dozens of vendors.

Music, special exhibits and tours of the Garfield home and museum are also available. It’s the market with a festival atmosphere! I also believe that they are offering free house tours during this event.

Kirtland’s Temple was constructed in the 1830s and this National Historic Landmark was the first temple built by Joseph Smith and his followers.

Distinctive design features include tiers of elaborately carved pulpits on both ends of the large meeting rooms. The temple served as the center of community life for two thousand Latter Day Saints by 1838. Within a year, all but one hundred were gone.

A 12,000 square foot Visitor Center uses interactive museum exhibits and video to introduce their story and solve the mystery of their sudden departure.

Host to Vintage Ohio the Farmpark was voted one of 10 great locations to dig up old dirt on farming by USA Today. The Farmpark is a family oriented science and cultural center devoted to agriculture, farming, and country life. Come on in and experience this award-winning park where you can milk a cow, take a wagon ride, and discover over 50 breeds of farm animals up close. Marvel at the Border collie at work, explore solar and wind power, The Great Tomato Works and themed gardens.

With 3,500 acres of display gardens, horticultural collections and nature trails, the Holden Arboretum is one of the largest arboretums in the United States. Home to flora from all over the world, it features trails for rugged hikes and gentle walks, as well as cross-country skiing and dog-walking. The facility offers a year-round slate of activities, horticultural classes and children’s programs

For lodging and more regional information contact the Lake County Visitors Bureau at 800.368.LAKE or www.lakevisit.com. There’s plenty to see and do.

Got travel? Contact thetravelprofessor@gmail.com or 740.550.9540.