From the Editor: Choose Your Own Adventure

Kristen Schmidt

I've really earned my wings this year-my airplane wings, that is. By the time this magazine reaches newsstands, I will have traveled more than 18,000 miles this year, racking up visits to France, Spain, Germany, Canada and a few domestic destinations. I'm exhausted but happy-and undoubtedly plotting my next conquest. Chances are excellent that it will be much closer to home.

Once a year or so, we devote a cover story to travel. It's the only cover story of the year that isn't all Columbus, all the time. Even the most fervent lovers of the city need a break now and then. Columbus Monthly staffers fanned out across Ohio on a quest to find food- and wine-focused destinations that are worth the drive. And did we find them. For weeks, staffers have come back from day trips singing the praises of wineries, restaurants and stores they visited.

I headed up to Conneaut to visit Arnie Esterer at Markko Vineyard. Arnie is a treasure, both as a person and as an Ohio wine pioneer. He's been making world-class wines since 1968, when, he recalls, most wine was sold in jugs. Markko is what my dad would call a "slice"-of America.

The winery is set back in the woods, making the drive feel a little mysterious. As you walk a gravel path to the cabin, a couple of dogs trot out to greet you. Stepping inside is like taking a step into another world, one that's no-tech, pleasantly rumpled and delightfully eccentric. Arnie and I sat at the tasting room table for two hours, nibbling cheese and sipping his wonderful chardonnay. This wasn't some exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour, either. You could be at that table, listening to Arnie share his wisdom about wine, any time.

I hope you will visit Arnie and the pups at Markko. And I hope you find many other adventures to pursue in our issue this month, even if wine isn't your thing. Some of my favorite pieces are about institutions-restaurants that have been around so long they have come to define their neighborhoods. Think places like Swenson's drive-in in Akron, The Pine Club in Dayton and Sokolowski's in Cleveland. Adventure doesn't have to take you far from home, either-get away for just lunch or dinner in Yellow Springs or Athens. And, as our cover shows in beautiful fashion, you don't need to go all the way to the Atlantic to find a sunny beach-the shores of Lake Erie beckon with waterfront hotels and winery tours.

Don't let the end of this summer pass you by without taking a good old-fashioned road trip-no passport required.