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Worth the Drive: Charming Tuscan wine getaway just 2 hours from Columbus

Regina Fox

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What if I told you Tuscany was only two hours away? Okay, okay, so it’s not actually Tuscany, but it certainly is a taste! I’m talking about Gervasi Vineyard near Canton, Ohio. This scenic wine resort will transport you out of the mundane scenes of Ohio into a 55-acre European destination with its delicious wine, delectable food, and delightful accommodations.

The Wine

Ohio will never be Italy or even Napa Valley, but Gervasi’s operation could give them a run for their money. All wines are made from hand-selected from Gervasi’s five-acre vineyard, and the three grape varieties allow more than 20 delicious wines to be made for your drinking pleasure.

The Food

Gervasi Vineyard has four—count ’em FOUR—dining options throughout its beautiful campus to suit every social need. The Bistro serves rustic, upscale Italian cuisine in a beautifully-restored, historic barn. The Crush House is a more laid-back, contemporary dining option with soups, salads, sandwiches, and, of course, lots of wine. If you visit Gervasi in the warmer months, you’ll want to check out The Piazza—an outdoor dining area with views of Gervasi’s spring-fed lake, yard games, and live music. And finally, The Still House is an intimate, chapel-inspired attraction offering signature Gervasi Café coffee and pastries by day and distilled spirits by night.

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The Stay

After a long day of sipping merlot, you ought not get behind the wheel. Instead, lay your little lush head down in any one of Gervasi’s three overnight options: a boutique hotel, a rustic farmhouse, or, my personal favorite, The Villas.

Entering these Tuscan-inspired suites is like stepping foot onto Italian soil. Cozy fireplaces, heated travertine floors, and European décor provide an environment so rich and cultural you’ll forget you’re actually in northeast Ohio. And when you wake up in the morning, all snug in your big comfy bed, a complimentary breakfast will be waiting for you in the lobby.

Things To Do

In addition to the obvious—vineyard tours, distillery tours, eating, drinking, being merry—Gervasi has a robust events calendar during every season. For the warm months, you can twist alongside the grapevines with yoga classes, and dance around the fire pits to outdoor concerts. When the temperature dips down, Gervasi moves inside with holiday events, culinary classes, and live music.

Gervasi Vineyard is 1700 55th St. NE Canton, just about two hours from Columbus. To make reservations and learn more, visit gervasivineyard.com.

When I'm not weaving a beautiful tapestry of words, I'm likely digging through jewels and vinyls at an antique shop near you.

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Coronavirus

Weekend Getaway: Ohio State Park lodges reopen

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Cooped up inside of our homes for the past few months, everyone could use a change of scenery. Luckily for those that love the great outdoors of Ohio, the perfect getaway is now possible once again.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced on May 28 that all nine Ohio State Park lodges would be reopened by June 5.

The places where you can escape to are listed below in order of closest proximity to Columbus to furthest:

  • Deer Creek
  • Burr Oak
  • Mohican Lodge
  • Salt Fork Lodge
  • Shawnee 
  • Hueston Woods
  • Maumee Bay
  • Punderson Manor

Director of State Park Lodges Tom Arvan had this to say in the May 28 press release:

“Our staff has been working diligently to ensure that guests return to a safe and sanitized environment following the CDC safety guidelines. Our goal is for our guests to feel comfortable as they enjoy the fun activities and relax in the natural beauty of the lodges and all the state parks have to offer this summer.”

Visit https://www.greatohiolodges.com/ to secure your much-needed wilderness adventure today.

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Want to get away? Southwest making it cheap

614Now

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Southwest Airlines is hoping that enough of you are close to feeling safe to leave the house for more than a trip to the grocery store. In a bid to jumpstart their flagging business, Southwest has announced some pretty steep ticket discounts - as low as $49 each way to a host of cities departing from Columbus.

Flights must be booked at least 14 days in advance and travel must happen between May 26 and August 31. Most expect Ohio's 14-day travel quarantine rule to expire by August but be sure to take that into account if you decide to hop on a plane.

Some of the cities and deals we have imagined for you include:

A long weekend in Atlanta: $118 per person roundtrip from Friday, Aug 14 - Sunday the 16th. Keep in mind, it's about 100 degrees in ATL this time of year so be sure to have access to a body of water if you go.

A patriotic, weekend protest in Washington DC: $98 per person roundtrip, 4th of July weekend. See the sights (if they're open to the public) and stand somewhere with a sign with whatever outrage you have in mind.

A long 4th of July beach weekend in Ft. Lauderdale: $198 per person roundtrip from July 3-6 and you can stay at this cute Airbnb apartment that's just one block from the beach for $88/night.

Vegas baby! You're going to have to forget the weekends if you want the great flight deal. But we found August 5-7 available for $198 a person. Plus you can get into the Bellagio for $139 /night right now as an added bonus. Two nights of debauchery, a little gambling and some of the best restaurants in America. What could go wrong?

Of course, traveling may be risky business for some people and this all assumes the respective cities and attractions re-open and are relatively safe. But if you just need to get away, it's probably never been cheaper.

See other flight options here.

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Weekend Getaway: Take a trip to the birthplace of bourbon

Colleen Quinn

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Itchin’ to get away for the weekend and try something a little different? You are in luck! The birthplace to the warm, fuzzy burn of a perfectly aged bourbon is a mere 3 hours south of us here in Columbus, Ohio!

As America's ONLY native spirit, bourbon comes out of Kentucky, crafting 95% of the world’s supply! Awaken those taste buds with a trout down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

Giving bourbon lovers an up-close look into how bourbon is distilled and the history behind generations of bourbon tradition, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection of bourbon whiskey distilleries located throughout Kentucky.

You could spend over a week exploring all of the world famous distilleries throughout Kentucky… but a weekend is plenty of time to sip and soak it in!

Where to start? Begin at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center located on the first floor of the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in downtown Louisville. Here, you can gather all the information you need to plot out your perfect bourbon tasting bucket list.

Next up…Whiskey Row awaits! Strap on your comfy shoes and hang a left out of the Frazier. Within a one mile stretch you will hit Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Old Forester Distilling Co., and Angel’s Envy Distillery. Make sure to pick up your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport at your first distillery to collect stamps at each distillery you visit!

Tours and Tastings
There are a total of 18 distilleries on the KBT, grouped into roughly 4 different locations: Louisville, Lexington, Bardstown, and Owensboro.

Each distillery offers a tour lasting approximately one hour, ending with a tasting. Learn the history of each distillery, how to properly taste bourbon, what distinguishes bourbon from whiskey, and the role bourbon has played in our countries history. Each distillery has quirks that make them uniquely their own, however the tours can get some what repetitive as bourbon is made of a specific process.

Pro tip: Skip the tour and head straight to the tasting if you are short on time or find the tours have gotten repetitive. Where to next?

BARDSTOWN
For a newer, more modern bourbon experience check out Bardstown Bourbon Company—the first KBT destination to combine distilling and culinary arts! Grab lunch at the distilleries Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar with an awesome view of the distillery through the floor to ceiling glass wall.

Heaven Hill Distillery is another must. This distillery has been family owned and operated since they were founded in 1935. Officially opening their doors at their new location, Lux Row Distillers has 4 brands under one roof! A bit further south you will hit Makers Mark, where you can hand dip your own bottle into the red wax!

LEXINGTON
Spend a day visiting these distilleries near Lexington: Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey, which is home to the world’s longest tenured active master distiller, Jimmy Russell!

Buffalo Trace—while technically not on the KBT, this distillery is one of the most famous of them all. As the oldest continuously operating distillery in America, Buffalo Trace was one of only three bourbon distilleries allowed to operate during Prohibition to distill ‘medicinal’ bourbon. Here, if you are lucky you may get the famous Freddie as you tour guide! He has been leading tours for nearly 20 years, was featured on the Hulu bourbon documentary named ‘neat’ and recently induced in to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Extra tidbits

While in Louisville make sure to stop at Feast BBQ for out of this world BBQ and their deliciously intoxicating bourbon slushies (yum).

For the history buffs, take a trip to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville, KY!

There are 18 distilleries that make up the official KBT, yet there are SO many more excellent distilleries located in the state of Kentucky. If you do not want to make your way all the way down to Louisville, check out Boone County Distilling Co, a boutique distillery, or New Riff Distilling (named best new bourbon of 2019) both of which are located near Cincinnati.

Official KBT Distilleries
 Angel's Envy Distillery
 Bardstown Bourbon Company
 Bulleit Distilling Co. 
 Evan Williams Bourbon Experience 
 Four Roses Distillery 
 Heaven Hill 
 Jim Beam American Stillhouse  (2 locations)
 Lux Row Distillers
 Maker's Mark Distillery 
 Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery
 Old Forester Distilling Co. 
 O.Z. Tyler Distillery
 Rabbit Hole Distillery
 Stitzel Weller Distillery
 Town Branch Distillery 
 Wilderness Trail
 Wild Turkey Distillery 
 Woodford Reserve Distillery 

Happy Bourbon tasting, and enjoy your time on the trail!

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