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Grape Escape 

Area wineries serve some of their best vino, including, yes, merlot.

Last time we checked, a plane ticket to Napa Valley would put us back several hundred dollars. A cheaper and no less tasty alternative is today's Lake Erie Wine Society Spring Tasting. "It's really just relaxing," says Gary Casterline, director of the Lake Erie Wine Society, which hosts. "There is such a wide variety of wines." Approximately 20 Ohio wineries will be on hand with bottles of their tastiest vino. Expect to see Madison's Chalet Debonné Vineyards, Grand River Wine Cellars (also in Madison), and Lakehouse Inn Winery (in Geneva on the Lake) pouring samples today. Award-winning chardonnay, pinot grigio, and riesling will all be available for sipping. "You should be able to find something you like," says Casterline, who compares the event to an intimate version of Vintage Ohio, the annual wine fest held every fall at Lake Metroparks Farmpark. There's just one rule, says Casterline: Take your time. "When we open, there's always a mad skirmish," he says. "There's a hundred people rushing in, and they're trying to get their first glass of wine. But after their first two or three samples, they kind of mellow out. A lot of people leave after an hour, because they found out drinking a lot of samples in an hour is really all you need."
Sun., May 21, 2-5 p.m.

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