Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Ninth and Final Stop of the Day: Buccia Vineyard

I was spent after leaving Firehouse, so the Bear and I decided to head out to the winery/bed and breakfast we were staying at, our ninth stop and final stop of the day, Buccia Vineyard in Conneaut, Ohio.
Note the nifty Chick-Fil-A shirt the Bear got me for my birthday!
I'll get straight to the point: this place is AWESOME. I've been looking forward to writing it up since the minute we arrived. Simply stated, this is the kind of place to go to have a good time whether you care about wine or not. 

The Bear had stayed here before but this was my first time, so my expectations for the next two nights were based solely on stories he had told me and a few pictures I saw on their website. I knew that a couple named Fred and Joanna Bucci owned and operated it and they're really good people. 

I also knew that I would have to go up a ladder to get to the bed. A waterbed. Yes, you read that right.

This place was mind-blowing for a number of reasons. Here are the top four:

1. Wine tasting is done completely on the honor system. If you're tasting, there's a table outside with bottles of each of Buccia's wines, measured pourers, a sign with the price per tasting, and a jar where you drop your money. If you're staying, Fred will direct you to where the wine is, tell you to help yourself, and that you'll settle the tab when you check out. 

I had never experienced this at a winery before. Relinquishing control and responsibility to guests sounds daring from a business standpoint but establishing this kind of trust between seller and buyer is a total winner. This is one of the things that now has me hooked as a repeat customer. It's easy and relaxed. There was no obligation to try a set amount of wines like the "3/$1.00"-type rates create, which allowed me to try exactly what I wanted; nothing more, nothing less. No one was hounding us for a credit card to start a tab and no one was vigilantly tallying each individual tasting for us, just in case we recently learned how to count without using our fingers. 

This trust made me feel like Fred thought of us as friends, not just as customers. We certainly appreciated being treated like the honest, hardworking adults that we are. It was easy to give more than our fair share to support a friend. 

2. It immediately feels like a home away from home. At some wineries, I've had the same cold, sterile feeling (and experience) I used to have when I went to model homes with my parents years ago: a nicely dressed person is only interested in talking to you because they want to sell you something and everything is nice to look at but don't you dare touch anything

Buccia is the total opposite in every way. No run-of-the-mill sales pitches, no hurrying to get to the next customer, no need to "look the part" of being at a hoity-toity winery, no pressure at all to do anything besides have a good time. This is a relaxed environment that anyone will feel welcome in and everyone will leave feeling like they have a new friend. The first night we were there, we sat outside in some folding chairs like we were at a friend's house for a picnic and shot the breeze with Fred and some other customers while we tasted wine. Fred is the kind of guy you will feel like you've know for years upon meeting him for the first time and wow, does he have the stories. I could have stayed out there all night just listening to all of the fun, sometimes hilarious experiences he's had. 

3. You might pick your own grapes. Sounds kind of crazy but really cool, right? Right. 

No, you're not picking some grapes off a vine and drinking them as wine the same day; Fred is a pretty spectacular guy but even he can't pull that off. However, one Saturday during the harvesting season, anyone and everyone is welcome at Buccia to help pick the grapes. Known as the harvest picnic, this event is held annually at the end of September, and anyone who attends will be paid handsomely in food and fond memories. If you go back in the next few years, you may be able to taste the fruits of your labor- a unique concept I have yet to find elsewhere. 

4. No other bed and breakfast has rooms like this. That's a pretty strong statement. But, I dare you to find another B&B with a hot tub with a partial privacy fence IN the room, a conversation pit, and a lofted waterbed with a ladder. I wanted to save the best for last. We stayed in room number one (of four) and it is incredible because you will not find anything like it anywhere else.
I can't make this stuff up. 

In addition to having sweet accommodations, breakfast was great each morning. We had mini blueberry muffins, bananas and creme, and orange juice on Friday morning and cinnamon rolls in place of the muffins on Saturday. Another nice feature about the rooms is that each has a private patio that overlooks the vineyard and is covered in grape vines, which is where we ate breakfast. 
Saturday's breakfast
As for the wine, it's okay. It's mostly on the sweet side, but that's to be expected since grapes that produce the sweeter wines generally grow well in the area. Buccia's Chambourcin was good with the traditional bite and a burst of almost Zinfandel-like pepper flavor. The Reflections of Lake Erie ended up impressing us both. It reminds me of a Gewurtztraminer-style Riesling. Buccia's Reflections is a well done blend of white grapes with a slightly sweet taste than a semi-dry Riesling and smooth finish. It is very similar to the Piesporter my mom likes to drink, so we got two bottles to take home.
Buccia is a must-go for anyone, regardless of their taste or interest in wine. In addition to the harvest picnic, they host a lot of different evens through the summer and fall like a steak fry and a pig roast. A bread and cheese basket can be ordered on a daily basis if you get hungry during your visit. They also ship wine within the state of Ohio if you're looking to try something before making the trip, just call (440) 593-5976. If you're looking to stay overnight like we did, book your stay as soon as possible because they fill up quickly. With three of the rooms at $80/night and the honeymoon suite at $120, the price is right. All in all, the wine is decent, the company is great, and there will always be some sort of fun whether there's a formal event or not. 

I won't give any spoilers to Fred's stories. I highly encourage you to go hear them yourself. It will be a memorable visit to say the least.

One final note on Buccia- no matter which winery we went to on our trip, if we had the opportunity to speak to an owner or winemaker, we quickly found out that they all know Fred Bucci and have wonderful things to say about him. The experience alone of meeting Fred is worth the drive- he truly is a good person and a grand lover of life. At the very least, you'll leave Buccia with a new friend, and maybe some wine, too.

Go out of your way to come here, you won't be disappointed. 

Up next, we head to Pennsylvania to test some wineries that were new to both of us, starting with Mazza. Check back soon for an update, and remember to enjoy your grapes responsibly! Cheers!

2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed the post! Looking forward to more. Love the 'honor system' they use. A friend runs a b&b in Bordeaux in France and uses the honor system for wine - they basically have a cellar downstairs, and people pick what they want and drop the paper collar from the wine neck onto the nail where their room key hangs. Very good vibe - and people love it. Look forward to more.

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  2. The most relaxed and peaceful settings to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and then stay the night and soak in one of the hot tubs. Fred and Joahna are great people. We have been going there for 25 yearsand it never gets old.

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