Italy may be a little closer than you think
Can’t make that trip to Italy this year? For wine enthusiasts in the United States, Italy may be a little closer than you think.
If you can make it to Canton, Ohio, that is.
Make the trip, because you’re in for a treat. Gervasi Vineyard is like a little tract of Italy nestled in the northeast corner of The Buckeye State.
The Villa Suites at Gervasi Vineyard
Stay for a weekend or longer amid their lush vineyard setting in one of six free-standing Italian-style villas, each with four guest suites, a wine bar, and a kitchenette. Or choose to stay in the property’s circa 1830 farmhouse that still retains its 19th century charm even after renovations. The farmhouse sleeps 7-8 guests, and while there, you can enjoy the services of a private chef from one of Gervasi’s three restaurants. He or she will prepare meals for you in the farmhouse kitchen, or, at your option, you can enjoy culinary instruction during the preparation of your meal.
Unique Dining Experiences in Canton, Ohio
The three restaurants on-site include the Bistro, situated in a converted 1823 barn, which offers an extensive rustic Italian menu; in mild weather, outdoor dining at The Piazza, where a fire pit attracts guests to gather ‘round and sip wine on chilly evenings; and finally, The Crush House, a casual option with a walk-up wine bar and Venetian-style cuisine.
While staying at Gervasi Vineyard, you can “get your Italian on” by taking Italian cooking classes, playing bocce, touring the winery and tasting the wines.
Ah, yes, the wines. Made in Ohio, but Italian at heart
Enter Andrew Codispoti, winemaker. Born in Italy, Codispoti came to America at the age of six with his parents and two brothers. “I remember when we arrived in New York harbor,” he reminisced. “I’d never seen a city like New York.”
The Codispotis initially stayed with relatives, where little Andy got his first dose of culture shock. “On the kitchen counter there was something that I perceived as food, and they were rectangular. They were about a half-inch thick or so.
They were different colors. And all night, I kept waiting for them to serve that great-looking American food, and they never did. Much later in life…all of a sudden…I realized that those were kitchen sponges.” Starting school in the U.S. was a little disorienting too, at first. Codispoti remembers being with his brother on that first day, neither of them knowing a word of English. And they were bewildered that the school day ended so early.
“All the kids put their coats on, we went outside, and he and I started to walk home,” he remembers. “A couple of teachers came and took us by the hand and brought us back to the playground. We did not understand why they wouldn’t let us go home. This impression of America was a little perplexing at this point. So, we tried to leave again, and the teachers had all the kids form a big circle around us — until the recess bell rang again so we could all go back inside!”
Codispoti is considerably more at home in the States these days, but his Italian heritage continues to serve him well as Gervasi Vineyard’s winemaker.
“There are numerous elements that contribute to the DNA of a wine,” he says, “and of course…geography is part of that…and then the wine making styles of the individual who guides those grapes into their final product. I grew up making wine with my mom and dad, and I learned from them some of the old world methods that my mom, who managed our winemaking back home in Italy, would use. I also learned from them…the work ethic that everything has to be done to the utmost.”
Codispoti says Gervasi wines are a lot like Italy and its people
“One key attribute of our wines which would reflect the Italian character is that they are designed to pair well with food, as well as be cocktail-worthy…they’re designed to be appreciated with friends and with food.”
Speaking of food and thinking a little ahead on the calendar, I asked Codispoti for a wine recommendation to pair with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
“A Thanksgiving meal is a plethora of flavors and colors and textures,” he acknowledged, “so I’m going to offer you two choices for that…on the one hand, I would recommend our Bellina (“Pretty”) Chardonnay for those who like the rounder, softer flavor that comes with the barrel fermentation and…and for who prefer something that’s a little bit crisper without the softness that comes from those barrel-raised characteristics, then I would recommend our Lucello Pinot Grigio. Those two wines will bridge many of the flavors and textures that are on the table.
And then, coming back to the present – which for me is very late summer, just on the cusp of autumn, on the New Jersey coast – I wondered what he’d suggest as a wine to share with neighbors on the front porch, just after sundown with the citronella candles burning.
Assuming no one on the porch had a strong preference for white or red, Codispoti offered,“I would suggest that you would serve our Velutto (“Velvet”) Pinot Noir, because that one has a light enough body and its raspberry and cherry flavors lend itself yet to the climate that has some humidity and some heat. And you can serve a Pinot Noir slightly chilled so it kind of lends itself towards that and as the evening wears on and there’s a little bit of a chill in the air, you can just allow that wine to warm up a little bit and it will bring out even more of those aromatic profiles I described.”
Finally, I wondered: if I was invited to someone’s home and wanted to bring a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, not knowing her preferences, which Gervasi wine might make me look good?
“I would recommend you would take our Abbraccio (“Embrace”) Cabernet Sauvignon,” he says, then explains why this wine over so many other choices. “Cabernet Sauvignon is well-recognized in the wine community and while it does have a bigger body and some tannins, out particular Cab is a very approachable Cab…I find that even those who are on the fence about a bold red wine really like our Cabernet Sauvignon. So, you’re bringing them a high quality wine that offers fruit and texture with just enough tannin structure to give that nice body and feeling in the mouth.”
You can stock up on wines for the holiday season and beyond at www.GervasiVineyard.com. And while you’re there, be sure to read their blog, which is a sensory experience in itself. Gorgeously written by Gervasi’s vineyard manager, Brian Gregory, it’s a literary treat that chronicles the changing year-round character of the vineyard.
One last thing: what does a mummified 1920s gangster have to do with Gervasi Vineyard? Find out by listening to the podcast episode featuring my uncut interview with winemaker Andrew Codispoti and Jeff Hicks, Online Community and Brand Manager for Gervasi. Here at Uncorked Monthly, we’ve got more great stories than you can shake a vine at. Read and listen to catch it all.
Written By: Uncorked Monthly
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Gervasi Vineyard Abbraccio Cabernet Sauvignon