Ohio: Where wine serves as a common denominator

by Natalie Bieber

Patrons of Myrddin Winery chuckle recalling the handwritten sign stating, “Wino’s go home” once nestled along the winding path to one of Canal Countries 22 wineries. Today, exploring Northeast Ohio’s wine country is a popular way to spend a leisurely afternoon while bonding people in the region together.

Advertised as “Wine, Woods, Water, and Wildlife,” Myrddin Winery, located in Berlin Center, Ohio, provides a common ground for locals to mingle.

On a recent visit to Myrddin, co-owner Evelyn Sperry greeted patrons by name and poured them a glass of their preferred wine while listening to the details of the customer’s daily lives.

“We’re down-to-earth people,” Sperry said. “We try to be welcoming and make people feel at home.”

Meanwhile, a couple making their first visit to the winery looked over the menu of 17 wines.  Sperry suggested samples explaining each variety with knowledge. With her help, even novice wine consumers can make a decision to suit their taste buds.

“We talk with our guests and try to educate everyone who comes through our door,” she said.

Thirty minutes by car and 14 miles northeast of Myrddin Winery is family-owned Barrel Run Crossing where the grounds and decor are a slice of Americana.  A large, remodeled farmhouse features the tasting room on the main level.

Blooming flower gardens adorn both sides of the walkway leading to the front door where customer Jim Campbell from “right here in Ohio,” introduced himself during the walk inside.

Campbell joined his father who was already standing at the tasting bar.

“I’m Jim, and this is Old Jim,” his father said, jokingly pointing a finger at his son.

A smile passed the lips of Campbell Jr.  “See what I’ve had to deal with my whole life,” he said.

The duo purchased a bottle of Mahoning River Red and a Pepsi before finding their way outside to the large patio seating area overlooking the green rolling farm grounds of the expansive property.

Campbell Jr.’s wife was already seated at one of the tables with her mother who sat in her wheelchair dressed in her Sunday best.

Campbell Jr. and his wife drove separately to Barrel Run Winery so that each could pick up their parent, both of whom are widowed.

“We come here to relax,” Campbell Jr. said.  “We can enjoy a beautiful Sunday together and have an excuse to drink a little wine in the middle of the afternoon.”

They smiled and laughed and sipped the wine which helped bring the two sides of the family together for the day.

Back inside, the tasting room counter remained busy.  From middle-aged couples stopping after church to a pair of local housewives whose bikinis peeked through their tank tops, a diverse crowd flowed through the winery.

And again, the wine served as a common denominator.

“Should I try the Tipsy Conductor or the Locomotion?” one of the housewives asked.

This question sparked a conversation between the pairs who discussed other local wineries, events in the area and even attempted to solve their “six degrees of separation.”

Strangers only moments ago, the wine connected them, and they exited the winery together each with at least one bottle of Ohio wine in hand.