Wine and Dine: A trip to Gervasi is like visiting Italy—no passport needed
“You know, work in the morning, have a one-hour nap in the afternoon, and at night go out and have that life. Go out and see your friends and eat tapas and drink red wine and be in a beautiful place.”
Anthony Bourdain said that, and while he was probably referring to life in Venice or Tuscany, he could’ve very easily been talking about a trip to Gervasi Vineyard—of course without the “work in the morning” part.
This picturesque wine resort in Canton, Ohio will transport you out of the sunless scenes of Ohio’s winter and into a 55-acre European retreat with its delicious wine, delectable food, and delightful accommodations.
Ted Swaldo and his family, whose roots trace directly back to Italy, purchased the property in 2009. With a dream and some elbow grease, the Swaldos transformed the dilapidated plot into a handsome estate, complete with a winery, distillery, four distinct restaurants, a coffeehouse and cocktail lounge, multiple indoor and outdoor event venues, 48 luxury overnight suites, a boutique gift shop, and scores of happy guests.
“It starts with setting a high standard,” explained Scott Swaldo, General Manager and son of Ted Swaldo. “Our goal every day is to deliver world-class experiences, not just first class, for our guests. We have empowered our staff to go above and beyond to wow our guests in many ways.”
As you may expect from a vineyard, Gervasi places paramount importance on its winemaking. Calling the process “fastidious,” Director of Winemaking and Distilling Operations Andrew Codispoti doesn’t miss a blanc or beat in his craft.
“We nurture our estate vineyards by hand so as to produce the finest Family Reserve Wines possible,” Codispoti said. “Our wines have the distinction of being served in an elegant ambiance of natural beauty, comfort, and luxury, which collectively elevate our guest’s overall experience.”
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Codispoti has been with Gervasi from the beginning, when the first seeds in the vineyard were planted. In addition to continuously polishing the design and development of the winery, he’s grown the portfolio from seven wines in 2009 to today’s award-winning list of 24 during his tenure. Among those accolades are the “Best of Class” award in both the Ohio and Finger Lakes wine competitions, the Ohio Department of Agriculture Director’s Choice Award for “Best of,” and the 2016 “Ohio Winemaker of the Year” award.
“Great wine is not an accident,” said Codispoti.
While Codispoti can’t single out a favorite wine, saying he “finds plenty of opportunity to take pleasure” in them all, Swaldo recommends Gervasi’s full-bodied signature Italian red, Truscano. He believes it is best enjoyed with great Italian food, which, conveniently, is available in abundance at the estate.
The Bistro, for example, offers upscale, rustic Italian cuisine in a stunning restored barn built in 1823. Exposed brick, natural woods, and low lighting make the environment swell with warmth in a way that evokes feelings of permanency and longevity, Codispoti said. It is here that Swaldo’s favorite dish is served: the Tuscan Beef Short Ribs. Braised for four hours in a rich veal demi-glace, this tender entree was what landed Executive Chef Jerry Risner his job back in 2009. Moreover, Risner’s attention to detail, consistency and hospitality earned The Bistro a USA Today “10 Best Readers’ Choice Award” for “Best Winery Restaurant” in the nation.
“We have not settled; we continue to try to improve on everything we do,” Risner said. “After 10 years, I’m still visiting farms to see different products and checking vendors to make sure we are buying the best products that we can.”
Aside from The Bistro, Gervasi is home to three more restaurants: The Crush House, The Still House, and The Piazza.
For those desiring a more casual experience, Codispoti suggests The Crush House, which is adjoined to a wine manufacturing operation. “Tubular handrails, steel cables, brick walls with a time-worn appeal and windows overlooking the winery give our guests an integrated experience between food, wine, and production,” he said. “Here one may feel they are at the epicenter of Gervasi’s wine experience.”
You’ll find a chapel in every good Italian village, and Gervasi is no exception. Inspired by the St. Gervasio church in Denno, Italy, where the family’s grandmother Maria Gervasi was baptized, The Still House combines a celestial environment with distillery entertainment. Guests can enjoy signature coffee blends and a light breakfast by day, while snacks and tempting libations concocted from Gervasi Spirits can be had at night.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Gervasi during clement conditions, The Piazza features seasonal outdoor dining for lunch and dinner with stunning views of Gervasi’s spring-fed lake. Grab a bottle of wine, a fresh-baked pizza, and challenge your friends to a game of bocce or cornhole on the lawn.
As your long day of award-winning wining and prize-earning dining comes to an end, you’ll be pleased to retire to one of your three options for luxurious lodging: The Villas, rustic suites inspired by the sights of Tuscany; The Casa, Gervasi’s upscale boutique hotel; or The Farmhouse, a four-bedroom inn originally built in 1830. No matter where you choose to stay, Gervasi staff ensures that each guest feels like they’re getting an experience tailored just for them.
“Guests celebrating special events with us are always acknowledged,” said Susan Monteleone, Director of Hotel and Resort Operations. “Be it a handwritten card in your room commemorating the special event, to chocolate-covered strawberries in room upon arrival, or maybe a floral bouquet celebrating the occasion.”
That’s really what it comes down to at Gervasi: the meticulously-minded employees who transcend traditional hospitality standards to deliver exceptional encounters to all who visit.
“While Gervasi is built upon providing beautiful surroundings, attention to detail, and exceptional wine and food, ultimately what makes Gervasi Vineyard special is our incredible staff,” said Swaldo. “We have built a culture of caring for our guests, caring for each other that provides our guests with memorable experiences to last a lifetime.”
Gervasi is located at 1700 55th Street NE in Canton, OH. For more information, rates, and reservations, visit gervasivineyard.com.
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