By STACY MILLBERG - firstname.lastname@example.org
The hot summer sun glistened on Lake Erie Sunday, creating the perfect backdrop for the Lake Erie Wine Fest.
In its fourth year, the wine festival showcases local wineries as well as several from outside the area. New to the festival this year was the Wine Tasting Adventure, which basically allows participants to learn how to sample wine, said Brook Hall, event coordinator.
Hall met with participants briefly and then turned them loose to sample five different wines. When the group finished, they returned to discuss the wines they sampled.
“It makes the event more interactive,” Hall said. “It’s a way to meet new friends and share what they learned.”
Wine tasting is an individual thing, he said. With more than 40 people participating in the Wine Tasting Adventure, Hall said when they returned to discuss the wines, there would be 40 different opinions of the wines.
Hall said the Lake Erie Wine Fest was created because there are so many local wineries in Ashtabula County that were participating in wine festivals outside the area, it only made sense to host a festival locally.
The Landing, located where the old Erieview Amusement Park once was, has been home to the festival for the past four years, as well as several other events during the summer months.
“When the amusement park closed, the intent was to make (the area) an event grounds,” he said.
Hall said the event has grown substantially, from vendors and wineries to attendance, since it first began. The first year saw 10 wineries, five vendors and about 1,200 people, he said.
This year, there were 15 wineries and more than 70 vendors, including those at the craft fair at the Old Firehouse Winery. As far as attendance, Hall said the event has seen an increase each year by about 500 to 600 people. Last year’s event played host to about 3,000 people. Although he did not have an official count, Hall said judging by the traffic at the gate, attendance was up this year as well.
Each patron to the festival received 15 tickets and a wine glass with their admission cost. This gave them the opportunity to sample wines from each of the 15 wineries showcased. Patrons then had the option to purchase more tickets, or buy bottles of wine from the individual wineries, he said.
“It’s was a beautiful weekend,” Hall said. “We’ve had a great turn-out.”
Hall said the wine festival is a great event that people really enjoy. The festival also has a number of sponsors that help make it possible, he said.
This year, the festival also teamed up with the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League. Volunteers with the APL kept the gate and ticket office staffed.
Instead of getting paid an hourly rate, the money they would have made will be a donation to the APL, Hall said.
Dave Jeresco, of Old Firehouse Winery, said his booth was busy all weekend. He said this year’s turn-out has far surpassed the previous three.]
“This is probably the best year for the event,” he said.
Jeresco said he enjoys pouring wine and talking with people during the event.