It says on their website that the Ferrantes have been making wine since 1937 and they can also add to that bio that since this past Saturday Douglas and Michele Esper are big fans of the Ferrantes. It was a typical Saturday of housework, yard work, and then more housework until I put my foot down and announced a road trip was needed. I was hungry and determined to try something new.
So, without further ado, my wife and I jumped into the car, and drove a little over an hour to Harpersfield, Ohio. The winery is located minutes off of highway 90 and is easy to spot. We had been told to make trying this winery a priority, but as a cheapskate, I was always hesitant to commit. Now I feel foolish knowing that even being a cheapskate is maintainable at Ferrante’s.
I know very little about high class dinning, and even less about wine, but the whole evening was an educational, entertaining, and refreshing experience. As you walk into the main building you can enter a wine tasting/shop area, the restaurant, or head out onto a wonderful patio.
The wine tasting/shop area is very helpful to a man such as myself. They have all of the famous Ferrante wines labeled with easy to read and understandable descriptions making choosing your drink easy. You can buy by the bottle, the glass, or in a sample variety of smaller sipping glasses, and sit down to share, and enjoy. They also have several fun wine related products such as wine scented candles, glasses, and fun house decorations. The wine is very reasonable and bottles can run from as little as $7.99 for the Rosso. (We sampled the Grand River Valley Riesling ($14.99/bottle, and the Rosso $7.99/bottle)).
The restaurant is a cozy, relaxing environment and it has a romantic ski lodge atmosphere. Our waitress was kind, conversational, and very helpful. I am kicking myself for not remembering her name for the review. She was able to offer food and wine pairing suggestions and was not too rushed to take time and converse and joke with us at our table. It really helped me relax and feel at ease in the normally foreign territory of classy-folk. It is so nice to not feel like a burden to the waitress, but instead to feel like a visiting friend.
Upon examining the menu of food and wine we decided to stick with our sampling mood and ordered a special they had running for the night. The waitress told us it included an appetizer, entrée, and dessert enough for two and that each course included a wine sampler as well. Not knowing what to expect we also ordered a bottle of wine for our table. (Grand River Valley Riesling, again) In my experiences with fancy food, I am usually left disappointed and still hungry when the meal is done, but that was so not the case!
The appetizer (artichoke and eggplant bruschetta) turned out to be four large toasted pieces of sesame bread topped with sun dried tomatoes, eggplant, cheese, and artichoke. Both my wife and I stopped a few bites in and looked at each other with surprise. This appetizer was so full of flavor it could be a full meal. I would strongly recommend ordering them. Ferrante paired the appetizer with their Pinot Grigio – a dry wine that worked well.
The main course was an interesting Chicken dish called Tandoori Chicken, paired with Saffron rice, white raisins, onions, and flavored with lemon/citrus and butter. The first bite was a little overwhelming as the lemon flavor took over the meal, but from then on, the dish grew on me immensely. The chicken was moist and cooked to perfection. Michele suggested that pine nuts or something with a little salt might add to the mix, but I feel it was great as is. A German wine called Gewürztraminer was the pairing for the meal, and I don’t think they could have picked a better wine for this dish.
Bring on the desert I said, but inside I could tell I had already gotten my monies worth and my fill of food. The waitress placed down our desert, and we let out simultaneous “oohs” and “ahs.” It was apricots, blackberries, and perhaps other fruit mixed with oatmeal granola, and a sweet whipped cream. The Oatmeal was a bit soggy and again Michele suggested perhaps a little salt could be added. The one downer of the meal was the wine pairing with the dessert, which was Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. It is not that the Wine was bad, but the whipped cream had been made with wine already and perhaps it was a little too much. Michele suggested the wine would be very good with a dark chocolate dessert instead.
We ate our meal and then enjoyed live music out on the patio. The outside area is a wonderful place with an outside heater, fountains, gazebos, and grape fields as far as the eye can see.
At the end of the night, we bought a few bottles of wine for home enjoyment (in fact right now we are enjoying one of those bottles) and our total bill was just over $100 with tip (including our meal, three bottles of wine, and two glasses of wine as well.). Yes, it is more then your typical night out, but at Ferrante’s no night out is typical.