First Winery: Halliday’s on Lake Milton. Lake Milton is a reservoir, and the Winery is right on the shore between the water and a Golf Course. They had a very nice tasting room, with cheese and meat trays and flatbreads that complement their wines.
They also had a couple local beers one from Columbus and one from Akron. Needless-to-say, we thoroughly enjoyed our tastings, and the fact that our hotel was a short walk across the parking lot after the tastings.
Next: Sprague Farm and Brewery. I am loathe to say “Best Harvest Host Yet” since that makes it sound like others are not as good. But Sprague really sets new standards for friendly hosts. Brian and Minnie are about our age or perhaps a bit younger. They have been running their unique establishment for about 10 years.
Minnie helped me get situated in a large, nicely level field where she said trailers and motorhomes usually park. She actually gave us a couple choices — one sort of out in the woods and secluded and the other just off the road by the lodge/taproom. I said, “Closer to the taproom, please!”
The field looked a little wet. I told Minnie the bus is heavier than the average trailer. She said, don’t worry, we have a tractor that can pull you out if you can’t on you own! She also immediately said NOT to pay too much attention to Harvest- Host’s “one night only” recommendation. She said to stay as long as we want.
Once we got parked, we went for a walk. Hot day. When we got back, Minnie said she’d be glad to offer us a beer, even though the taproom was not yet open. Apparently, hot days and thirsty guests override the taproom schedule.
The Beers they make, some from fresh own-grown barley and hops are AWESOME. We worked (actually, that is not the right word. “Enjoyed” would be more accurate) our way through most of their offerings, from Lagers to IPAs to Porters and Belgian Blonds. Liz especially enjoyed a mild American Wheat beer, though not as much as the Merlot at Hallidays.
The Sprague Farm taproom has become a go-to socializing place for miles around. (Of course some of that could be because there just isn’t much for miles around!) They have a limited food menu, and an expansive beer menu. And WiFi. And super-friendly staff. Although our first night was a Thursday — and a sign sez they have Live music Friday and Saturdays — there definitely was music. Apparently the days of the week matter almost as little to the Spragues as to us retired folks.
Retiring after music and drinking and enjoying, we discovered the only problem at Sprague’s. The FROGS. LOUD does not begin to describe the cacophony! I can handle sirens and trains and Cubs Fans, but this is too much! ? We are gonna need some urban-time soon.
Minnie and Brian offered a tour and we were excited to take them up on it. This in exchange for a tour of the bus, which we were glad to offer. Pretty interesting use of an old barn, part of which was built in the 1800s. Their brewing equipment is an excellent design consisting mostly of reclaimed equipment from other breweries– all gravity fed and cask-aged in an antiseptically clean area of the larger structure.
Also in the barn, Brian’s Chainsaws. He carves pretty elaborate stuff, not just the “bear-From-a-tree-trunk” that it seems most chainsaw carvers do. Benches, wall-hangings, gargoyles, cats. He generally doesn’t sell his stuff — gives it to friends, or for charity auctions.
A couple days at Sprague Farm, then off to meet the McDowells at Chautauqua. Fran contacted us to discuss the menus for our time together. This is remarkable as the McDowells are not really known for advance planning. But, it’s good to worry about and plan for MEALS!. We (and they, apparently) wouldn’t want to starve! We agreed as to who does which courses during 3 separate progressive degustation events. We will stop at some farmer’s markets on the way to Chautauqua in preparation!