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Wine and Dine: A trip to Gervasi is like visiting Italy—no passport needed

Regina Fox

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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.

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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.

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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Getaways

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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Food & Drink

¡Ándale, check out these 12 Cinco de Mayo fiestas!

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It's hard to imagine a Cinco de Mayo without the traditional tequila-induced hangover. Even though you may not be able to sip those margaritas on a sunny patio or at the bar, local restaurants have figured out a way to help you celebrate at home - margaritas included. Here's the not-so-skinny on living out your tequila and enchilada-fueled dreams.

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In order to bring a bit of normalcy back, we've teamed up with @hornitostequila and @daiquiri_daze_popup to open our doors back up for the day and serve a limited offering of some of the faves for Cinco de Mayo. Offerings include but are not limited to our basic-cable famous salsas and Columbus' most missed margs. A party pack for four will include a Spotify playlist and that good Cosecha pebble ice that MIGHT JUST help to make you feel like you're celebrating on our patio. Online pre-orders will start sometime tomorrow at www.toasttab.com/cosecha-cocina/v3 and go to the day of. Walk-in’s are also welcome! Stay safe Columbus. We miss you dearly. Thank you so, so much for your continued support and we'll see you on the other side. Offerings: • Margaritas - Single (Comes with Salt, Lime, and Pebble Ice) - Traditional - Hornitos Reposado, Dry Curacao, Fresh Lime, Agave $8 - Next Episode - Hornitos SIlver, Dry Curacao, Hibiscus, Habanero, Lime $8 • Chips and Salsas $4 Koki's Chips, Roasted Tomato and Mint and Tomatillo-Avocado salsas Single/Extra Salsa $2 • Sage Margarita Jell-O Shot $2 • Cinco De Mayo Pack for 4 $40 (4) Margaritas of your choice, (2) Orders Chips and Salsas, (4) Jello-O Shots, Spotify Playlist, Ice, Limes, Salt, Super Cool Cactus Decanter • Chicken Tinga Taco Kit for 2 $20 (Pre-Order Only) Chicken Braised in Mild Red Chillies, Corn Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Pickled Red Onion

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Are you ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? This year our Fiesta is at your house with our 5 de Mayo Fiesta Combo 🇲🇽 You can get a combo for 2 or 4 Amigos! Each Amigo gets: • One Queso or Guacamole with fresh chips and Salsa 🧀 🥑 • Three Tacos of your choice (Shredded chicken, ground beef, or Al Pastor)🌮 • Two Lime or Flavored Margaritas We will be also dropping some 5 de Mayo T-Shirts inside some orders as a gift! But you can support our team by purchasing one for $10! *Promo available on 5/5/20 all day. Pick up only • • #eat614 #columbusfoodie #columbusfoodscene #topcolumbusrestaurants #614magazine #614eats #buckeyes #happyhour #mexicanfood #margarita #girlsnightout #tacos #guac #collegegirls #collegelife #restaurant #margarita #asseenincolumbus #college #campus #columbusfoodscene #columbusohio #osugrad #ohiostate #socialdistancing #quarantine #quarantinelife #cincodemayo #togetherasbuckeyes #osugrad

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Flanagan’s has your Saturday night covered with unique drive-in concert

Mike Thomas

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With the usual slate of summer festivals and events cancelled due to the pandemic, we're going to have to get creative if we want to have any fun at all in the weeks to come. In that spirit, the team at Flanagan's Pub in Blacklick is hosting a special drive-in concert this Saturday, May 2, that offers a good time from the relative safety of your own vehicle.

Described as "Sonic, meets drive in movie, meets live concert" on the Flanagan's Facebook page, this special event running from 6PM-9PM on Flanagan's north lawn will feature live music from artist Brad Moore, with full service carry-out food from the pub also available.

Upon arrival, drivers will directed to the field north of Flanagan's parking lot. Attendants will be on hand aid with parking, and to ensure that a proper space is left between vehicles to promote social distancing. From there, servers wearing gloves and masks will deliver a single use menus to each vehicle and handle all carryout orders. Then, it's just a matter of kicking back to enjoy the show (but please take note: Flanagan's requests that all guests at this event remain in their vehicle at all times).

To aid in parking when you arrive, Flanagan's has produced this handy map:

Flanagan's is located at 3001 Reynoldsburg-New Albany Rd in Blacklick. For more information, visit Flanagan's on Facebook, or reach them by phone at (614) 855-7472.

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