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A Paradise In The Eastside Countryside

Harmony Hill Vineyard and Winery
2534 Swings Corner / Point Isabel Road
Bethel, OH 45106 (513) 734-3548


We have to give total credit to Dr. Dan Meakin for this article. Dr. Dan plays at Harmony Hills and last month he invited us up to check out the vineyards and see his solo show. What we found when we arrived was much more than we expected.
Harmony Hills Vineyards is tucked away in a pristine slice of country paradise just outside of Bethel. The sprawling vineyard is a ranch, a farm and a vineyard all in one 70 acre park like setting. The place is simply beautiful.

The beauty Harmony Hills has to offer is designed to stimulate all five senses. The picturesque vineyard is a photographers dream. Scenes of sun drenched green fields, perfectly manicured rows & rows of grape vines, painted horses lazily grazing, a bench swing hanging off an ancient oak gently swaying in the summer breeze.
Everywhere you look there is something that causes a moment of pause and appreciation for the “harmony” of the sights that fill the eye in any direction.

All the while the olfactory senses are silently deciphering the aromas of peach blossoms, wild flowers and fresh cut grass. Soulful sounds dance in rhythm all around you, the laughter of children playing, horses naying in the distance, tinkling of delicate glassware, giant tree limbs creaking in the gentle wind and of course, Dr. Dan’s singular six string. All dancing to the metronome of the consistent repeat of... pop! Another bottle opened, another smile. Just another Saturday afternoon in Harmony Hills.

The juice in the bottle is the crescendo all this orchestrated magic finally culminates into. A complex symphony of vine, sun, wind, rain, hard work and pure happiness, liquefied, captured & corked. All this effort, all of the beauty, every nuance carefully manipulated and fine tuned until the tune is finally a harmonious sweet song. Then, it gets sealed away in oak casks for seasons, deep in the dark but never sleeping. Until at long last it’s brought out into the light, brought back to life in one fast breath and celebrated. It makes you marvel at the wonders of nature. Nature you can taste on your lips like a sweet kiss.
The conductors of this fine orchestra are Bill and Patti Skvarla, owners and operators of Harmony Hills Vineyards. The Skvarla’s passion for wine making began 15 years ago when they started making wine at home from juice. The passion grew to an obsession and Harmony Hills is the fruit of that life’s work. Like the slow fermentation of the fine wines they create, it took several years to bring the vineyard to life. The vines alone take two years after planting before they can be successfully harvested. The underground cask vault that sits below the round concert patio was another intense endeavour. One of only four in the US (and the only one within 40 states) the vault houses the precious vino as it slowly sucks the oak’s sweetness out of the handmade casks.
All this effort has landed the Skvarla’s many rewards and many awards to go along with them.
Just last year Harmony Hills won a Gold award for their 2007 Concerto and a Silver award for their 2007 Rubato from the American Wine Society International Competition and has many prestigious others.
One 50¢ taste will make you understand why.

We sampled the white Concerto among others and it was just as they described it, a soft semi-sweet summer wine, delicious and bright. Not being a wine connoisseur myself my first reaction was “Wow that would be perfect over a tall glass of ice with a fresh lemon wedge” A statement like that might get you ousted in Napa Valley but at Harmony Hills it was responded to with an honest smile and a “Oooh... that sounds good!” Now that’s my kind of wine tasting. No pretension, no condescending attitude towards the wine novice. Perhaps most important of all, truly appetizing wines to be enjoyed by all, paired and served as the customer enjoys them most. “We drink it (our wine) with what we have. If we are having Skyline for dinner, then we have wine with our Skyline,” Patti said. Bill also pairs steak with white wines. “However you like your wine the best is how you should drink it”, regardless of what anyone else’s opinion.

When did that get lost in the wine world? Even if you are a wine novice or for that matter have no inkling about wine at all, after spending a few minutes with Bill, you will be sharing your new found knowledge with friends & relatives.
For instance did you know Cincinnati was the fatherland of American wine making? Bill effortlessly explains how Nicholas Longworth came to Cincy back in the 1800’s and cultivated a catawba grape vineyard thus creating America’s first serious production vineyard. Bill has a wealth of knowledge about wildlife, agriculture, conservation and life itself. By the time we left we understood much about the wine making process and the unique geography Cincinnati shares with vineyards from California, France, Germany and many others. How can Cincy share geography with Germany? Look at the globe, follow the latitude line, you’ll see what he’s talking about. They both are extraordinary people with a far from ordinary experience to offer. The Skvarla’s enthusiasm is infectious, after just a few minutes of conversation you soon find yourself asking questions about wine making, terminology and Cincinnati history more so than you ever did in school. Here’s a class students of all ages could really benefit from. It’s interesting education.

Harmony Hills is an experience anyone would enjoy. It’s the perfect place to spend the day. Your welcome to bring your own food, the kids and the family pet. Sit back and relax, dine and drink the fine wines. Or browse the vineyard in all the beauty it has to offer. Not to mention what a place to take a date! Why bother with the same old dinner and movie when you can entertain your date with a quality memorable experience they may have never been offered the likes of before. It is the perfect place for a wedding or event too. To truly understand you just have to see it for yourself. You’ll find it hard to believe your in Bethel Ohio.

Harmony Hills is open Fridays (5pm-9pm) and
Saturday & holidays (2pm-9pm) through October 3. Admission is free, the music is free and the peacefulness is priceless. The award winning wines can be purchased by the bottle, case or taste. Most varieties run between $11-14 and tastes are just 50¢. For more info check out the website at www.hhwines.com

 

 

 

 

 

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