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Markko Vineyard
by
K.L. Sullivan

Summary: Markko Vineyard was started in 1968 with the intent of growing vinifera grapes along Lake Erie. Arnie Esterer is successfully growing Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin. Enjoy a visit to this winery amidst the wooded area. Plan to spend some time outside at one of the tables.

Markko VineyardMarkko VineyardCovered bridges and fallen leaves covering roads led the way to Markko Vineyard. We knew we were close to the wooded winery tasting room when we saw vineyards on South Ridge Road. On our November visit, the fall leaves crunched under our feet as we walked to the winery where the tasting room was located. Here we met Linda, who poured our tastings as we learned more about the winery.

After 17 years as an industrial engineer, Arnie Esterer made a decision to leave his desk job and start a winery. In 1968, Arnie and his partner Tim Hubbard started Markko Vineyard. With guidance from Dr. Konstantin Frank in New York, the partners began to grow vinifera grapes. The partners were among the pioneers in growing vinifera grapes along Lake Erie. They wanted to put their resources into growing the well-known vinifera grapes Riesling and Chardonnay.

Markko VineyardToday the nearby vineyards consist of 14 acres and include Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin. All of the wines are produced from estate grown grapes. Markko Vineyard produces 5000 gallons (about 2100 cases) per year.

In the winery, Arnie believes in using natural fermentation using the native yeasts occurring on the grapes. According to Linda, following a concept he learned about from California, Arnie believes that “The best way to make a marriage is in the vineyard.” A row of vines may include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Arnie also dries oak barrels for three years before using them to age wine.

The tasting room is comfortable with chairs available. The counter is a large window style counter set in a wall. Over the counter, a large carved piece of wood has "Gladden Thy Heart" carved into it. Arnie and Linda carved this one winter when it was too cold to work in the vineyards. A small wood stove would provide warmth on a cold day. Just outside the back, a deck with tables and chairs offered a perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine under the trees. Linda is friendly and knowledgeable about the wines she pours and provides other wine information during discussions. Visitors will note that the wines are not recent vintages but include older vintage.

Markko Vineyard     Markko Vineyard

Whites
We tasted several wines at Markko Vineyard. The Chardonnay 2003 was barrel aged with a resulting aroma of apple and slight oak. The taste reminded us of apple and butterscotch. The finish was crisp with citrus, apple and oak nuances. The Reserve Chardonnay 2004 offered apple and oak nuances. The finish was crisp and fruity that yielded to butter. Riesling 2003 had a mineral aroma with a citrus fruit taste. The finish was crisp and dry. Riesling 1997 had a mineral aroma with a smooth citrus taste. The finish was clean, crisp and dry. Canticle 2003, a blend of Riesling with some Chardonnay offered a mineral and green apple aroma. The taste was velvety with apple and citrus. The finish was clean, crisp, smooth and dry. Riesling 2002 was a golden yellow with an herbaceous aroma. The taste was sweet with a velvety mouth feel. The finish was crisp with citrus. It finished on the dry side. Chardonnay Select Reserve 1999 was a late harvest wine, with a golden yellow color. The aroma had a little apple and the taste was sweet. The sweetness balanced with the acid for a crisp finish.

Markko VineyardReds
The Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 offered an aroma and taste of black fruit and earthiness. The finish was crisp with mild tannins. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 had a black fruit aroma and taste. The finish was crisp with good tannins. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 also offered a black fruit aroma and taste. The finish was crisp with tannins.

When you visit check for possible events. In May there is a Blessing of the Vines followed by a Fish Fry. In September, there is an Odds and Ends Sale that features wines that will no longer be sold or which only have a few bottles left.

 

Markko Vineyard
4500 South Ridge Rd
Conneaut, Ohio 44030

GPS: N 41° 51.085’ W80° 37.414’


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