South River Vineyard is housed in an old church on South River Road in Geneva, Ohio. Inside, there are a few rows of wooden pews facing each other and stained glass windows all around. There's a veranda on the side of the building and a separate pavilion for a relaxing, outdoor experience overlooking the vineyard. The setting is absolutely beautiful and very quiet; it is perfect for anyone looking for a scenic venue that can help them diffuse and re-energize. I highly encourage everyone to check out the photos on their website because they are stunning.
This was an interesting experience for me. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church and though I don't consider myself to be a deeply religious person now, being at South River was almost surreal. I was in an old church, standing by the hard, wooden pews no butt could ever forget, and I was tasting wine that was definitely not communion wine. I felt like such a rebel.
And of course, there's nothing like some good ol' Catholic guilt to bring the experience full-circle.
|In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Grapes, Amen.|
Anyone who visits South River has the option to purchase a cheese and bread plate but patrons are allowed to bring small picnics to enjoy with their wine, too. South River also allows well-behaved dogs on leashes in the pavilion which may be a draw for some; this is the first winery I've seen that openly permits four-legged friends. They do not allow weddings, private parties, or photography, such as senior pictures or engagement photos, which is unfortunate since South River has such a scenic property.
Tasting flights of any four wines of your choice are available for $6. The girl at the tasting bar was nice and did a decent job explaining the wines and dividing her attention between us and other customers, but she wasn't the easy-to-talk-to, "spark plug" personality we've found at some of our other, more memorable winery visits. The wine also didn't stand out. We split our tasting and the Bear ordered the Pinot Noir and the Exodus and I had the Chardonnay and the Riesling. The Pinot Noir was predictable with a light body and silky taste, and it had a hint of cherry that I liked. The Exodus, a Merlot, didn't have the bitter chocolate taste it was supposed to, and I was looking forward to that so I was a little let down. The Bear was less than satisfied with these as well.
The Chard was a good, dry white, but I wasn't particularly wowed. It had a hint of buttery vanilla and it was oaked, but it was lacking the traditional, bold flavor of an oaked Chardonnay. It was crisp, bright, and mild, which would make it a good summer wine, but it wasn't special. This would be a good wine for someone who is starting to transition from sweet to dry wines. It is good, but it isn't something I fell in love with.
The Riesling was...special. It tasted like grass. I would buy this if I was expecting the Chick-Fil-A Cow as a dinner guest.
It's possible I had a bad tasting, but unless you moo, I would stick with the Chardonnay.
This was the only winery on our trip from which we did not purchase a bottle. We did get a souvenir logo glass, though!
South River's wine can be shipped by the case throughout the state of Ohio as well as Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. If you are interested in ordering a case, call 440.466.6676; they are not available for sale online through their website. South River is the first that I have come across so far to be able to ship across state lines. I will do further research into the state of Ohio's laws to see why some wineries are limited as to where they can ship and some are not.
Overall, our experience at South River was decent but this is a winery we aren't itching to go back to soon. The wine didn't stand out, the people didn't stand out, so we weren't head over heels thrilled. The wines aren't bad by any means (with the exception of the Riesling), they just aren't for us. South River prides itself on being a quiet place to sip wine and it was exactly that- maybe even a little too quiet for me. Undoubtedly, the affect of the church setting subconsciously influences the demeanor of their guests.
My impression is that South River would be a good choice for a gathering where you'll be making your own fun and want a pretty place to go- like a low-key girl's night out or a romantic picnic for dog lovers- and the wine will be supplementary to, rather than the focus of, your visit.
It's always possible that we may have come on a bad day, so if you haven't been to South River and you'll be in the area, stop by- it's certainly worth a try. Or, if you have been to South River and had a better experience than we did, please share it- we would love to hear a story that can make us reconsider a second visit!
As always, remember to imbibe responsibly, regardless of what's in your glass! Check back soon for our next stop, Deer's Leap! Cheers, all!