The old saying, “A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and thou,” probably sounds pretty appealing to most winter weary parents. A mid-winter getaway, without the kids, might be just what you need to combat cabin fever.
The Wine and Chocolate Weekend on February 10-11, 10 am- 5 pm each day, just in time for Valentines Day, sponsored by the Chautauqua Lake Erie Wine Trail, gives you the opportunity to spend a romantic weekend with you significant other, without going too far from home.
The forty-mile long wine trail, located about ninety minutes from the city of Buffalo, has fifteen wineries, eleven in Chautauqua County and four in northern Pennsylvania. Each ticket holder will receive a wine glass, a special gift, and recipe cards.
At each winery you will have the opportunity to sample wines, along with a wine and chocolate creation made special for this event. As of press time, the wineries have not released what their creations will be, but considering they are combining chocolate and wine, they are sure to be yummy! Tickets, which must be ordered in advance, are $21/person. Contact the wine trail at www.chautauquawinetrail.org or call 1-800-DRINK-NY (Johnson Estates Winery). Be sure to order your tickets as soon as possible, as sales are limited.
The Chautauqua grape growing area is the largest and oldest Concord grape growing region in the world. Designated the Grape Belt Heritage Area, there are over 33,000 acres of vineyards in both Chautauqua County and northern Pennsylvania.
The first vineyards were planted in the early 1800’s. However, wine production was short lived because of the temperance movement, which was founded in nearby Fredonia. Dr. Charles Welch settled in this area and manufactured a non-alcoholic beverage, better known as Welch’s Grape Juice.
Wineries began springing up in the area after the passage of the Farm Winery Act of 1976. Below are the wineries, listed in north to south geographical order. From Buffalo, take the Thruway to exit 59, to access the local roads leading to the various wineries.
Willow Creek Winery (716-934-9463; www.willowcreekwines) 2627 Chapin Road, Sheridan. Open Monday–Friday 11-5, Saturday and Sunday 11-6. Wines produced by this family owned and operated winery include Concord, Rambo Red, and Cayuga White. The facility includes a picnic grove, tasting room and gift shop, along with a catering facility that holds up to 400 people.
Merritt Estate Winery (716-965-4800; www.merrittestatewinery.com), 2265 King Road, Forestville. Free tours and tastings year-round daily 10–5, Sunday 1–5. This family owned and operated winery specialties include Chautauqua White, Bella Rosa, and Late Harvest Delaware. The large tasting room features a gift shop with a selection of wines and wine related items.
Roberian Winery (716-326-3100) 2614 King Rd., Sheridan This small winery, owned by Vetter Vineyards, features a small tasting room and a dozen different varieties of wine including seyval, chardonnay, Riesling and merlot.
Woodbury Vineyards (716-679-9463 or 888-697-9463; www.woodburyvineyards.com), 3230 South Roberts Road, Fredonia. Open year-round Monday– Saturday 10–5, Sunday 12–5. Some of their vintages, include White Renard, Seaport Blush, and a sweet cranberry dessert wine. They have a well-stocked gift shop.
Nobles Winery (716-326-2600) 8630 Hardscrabble Rd., Westfield. Open daily 11-6. A newly opened family owned and operated winery that features Noiret, Cabernet Franc and Marechal Foch.
Vetter Vineyards (716-326-3100; www.vettervineyards.com), 8005 Prospect Station Road (off NY 20), Westfield. Open year-round 11–5 daily. This small family-owned and oper¬ated winery makes wines from vinifera grapes crown in classic estate tradition.
Johnson Estate Winery (716-326-2191; www.johnsonwinery.com), 8419 West Main Road, Westfield. Open seven days 10–6 year-round. This 200-acre winery, established in 1961, is the oldest exclusively estate winery in the state. The entire process is done at the winery rather than being shipped out to other locations, so the quality is under the Johnson family’s direct control. Be sure to sample their signature wine, Liebeströpfchen (“Little Love Drops”).
Mazza Chautauqua Cellars (716-269-3000) 4717 Chautauqua-Stedman Rd. (Rt. 33) Mayville. Open Mon.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 11-5. This winery, located along the shores of Chautauqua Lake was established in 2005. They create fine wines and they also have a hand-crafted copper pot still that is used to make brandy from their wines; the only brandy still in western New York.
Schloss Dopken Winery (716-326-3636), 9177 Old Route 20, Ripley. Open daily year-round 12–5 for tasting and sales. This small farm winery, operated by J. Simon Watso and his wife, Roxann, features a small gift shop and tasting room tucked away in a 100-year-old farmhouse.
Blueberry Sky Farm Winery (716-252-6535; www.blueberryskyfarm.com ), 10243 Northeast Sherman Road, South Ripley. Open Saturday and Sunday 10–5. A small family-owned winery located on a 70-acre blueberry farm, specializing in over two-dozen award-winning sweet and dry fruit wines.
Sparking Ponds Winery (716-736-4525; www.sparklingponds.com ) 10661 West Lake Rd., Ripley Open daily 10-6. This winery, which opened in 2005, is named for the ponds located on the property. They make some of the best icewine in the region and soon plan to specialize in champagne making.
Mazza Vineyards (814-725-8695; www.mazzawines.com) 11815 E. Lake Rd., North East, PA. Open Mon.-Sat. 9-5:30, Sun. 12-4:30. This family-owned and operated winery is noted for its Riesling and icewine, as well as Vidal Blanc, Niagara and Country Blush.
Arrowhead Wine Cellars (814-725-5509; www.arrowheadwine.com) 12073 E. Main Rd., North East, PA. This family owned and operated winery overlooks Lake Erie. Specialties include a variety of red and white wines, along with fruit wines.
Penn Shore Vineyards (814-725-8688; www.pennshore.com) 10225 E. Lake Rd., North East, PA Opened in 1969; it is one of the largest and longest established wineries in Pennsylvania.
Presque Isle Wine Cellars (814-725-1314, 800-488-7492; www.piwine.com) 9440 W. Main Rd., North East, PA. This winery produces about 7,000 gallons of wine annually. Varieties include Cabernet, Concord, Niagara, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Since you wouldn’t want to try to visit all the wineries in one day, there are numerous bed & breakfast inns and hotels located near the trail. Be sure to make reservations, as this is a busy weekend for these establishments.
The White Inn (716-672-2103; www.whiteinn.com), 52 East Main Street, Fredonia. The beautifully restored White Inn, located in the heart of Fredonia, has 23 guest rooms, including 11 suites.
The William Seward Inn (716-326-4151; www.williamsewardinn.com), 6645 South Portage Road (NY 394), Westfield. The inn’s main building, which has eight guest rooms with private baths, is a Greek Revival structure with Palladian windows The adjoining carriage house, built in 1991, has four luxury suites that include four-poster beds and double Jacuzzi tubs.
Brookside Manor Bed & Breakfast (716-672-7721 or 800-929-7599; www.bbonline.com/ny/brookside), 3728 NY 83, Fredonia. Four beautiful guest rooms with air conditioning and private baths are available in this brick home, which was originally built in 1875 by a local businessman.
Candlelight Lodge Bed and Breakfast (716-326-2830; www.landmarkacres.com,), 143 East Main Street (NY 20), Westfield. This restored Victorian Italianate brick mansion built in 1851 is listed on the National Register of Historic homes. It has seven spacious suites and two rooms, all with private baths and modern amenities.
Brick House B & B (716-326-6262; www.brickhousebnb.com), 7573 East Main Road, Westfield. This inn features five guest rooms, all with private baths and air conditioning.
Best Western (716-366-7100 ), 3912 Vineyard Drive, Dunkirk. This 61-room hotel features an indoor pool, free continental breakfast, and a 24-hour hot/cold beverage bar.
Comfort Inn (866-386-2663 ), 3925 Vineyard Drive, Dunkirk. This 61-room hotel features a deluxe continental breakfast and a 24-hour juice bar.
Days Inn of Dunkirk-Fredonia (716-673-1351), 10455 Bennett Road (NY 60), Fredonia. This 135-room hotel offers an indoor pool and spa and free continental breakfast.
Ramada Inn (800-526-8350 ), 30 Lakeshore Drive East, Dunkirk. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, this hotel features 132 guest rooms with harbor views, some with whirlpool suites.