The spirits of Northeastern Ohio

by Lydia Whitehead

Wineries use a variety of grapes and offerings to fit every taste.

Some offer musical entertainment. Others offer tours and classes. All are done in an effort to draw and create loyal customers.

Consumers may not be used to the thought of wine coming from Ohio. Addressing these consumers, Myrddin Winery owner Kristopher Sperry said, “Kindly, I would tell them that they are missing out. Unkindly, I would tell them to stop being a snob. They are only depriving themselves”

Ohio boasted 182 licensed wineries in May 2013, this is an increase of 58 since 2008, according to an article in the Toledo Blade. Local wineries are taking advantage of this boom by employing creative marketing strategies to draw more customers. .

Maize Valley Winery in Hartville, Ohio, has a host of activities beyond wine tasting. These include a corn maze, live musical acts and hot air balloon rides.

Hostess Malori Schillet said the winery has an onsite bakery, restaurant, deli, souvenir area and grocery area with fresh locally grown produce. Maize Valley also makes its own gourmet sauces, jams and other specialty foods from scratch.

The winery also serves as a venue for bridal showers, birthday and retirement parties as well as vendor sales shows.

A popular event at Maize Valley is the vinters dinners, the third Thursday of every month. The dinners pair new wines with food from local farmers. This gives visitors the opportunity to learn about wines and tour the vineyard.

Owner Michelle Schillet also hosts charitable events such as a bra-decorating contest with all proceeds going to breast cancer research.

Visitors who want to get down and dirty might want to participate in the Farmathon. Regular folks are put through grueling and mud-filled obstacles including an adventure race through the vineyard, creek, woods and fields of Maize Valley during a 5K run.

Sounds of a fast-moving freight train can be heard passing by Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard in Rootstown, Ohio, 20 minutes from Maize Valley. It is a family-owned winery that hosts live music from local musicians.  Its events include bridal and baby showers, anniversaries, birthday parties and weddings.

Karl Hoisington, who does a little bit of everything at Barrel Run Crossing, said, “Visitors can learn about the process of grape growing and winemaking with our Vineyard Walk and Talk events.” Take a walk in its orchard or meadow, then sample some of the wines which have fruit added to them.

The winery welcomes volunteers to help harvest and crush grapes in the fall.

Visitors could arrive by boat from Lake Milton for visits to Myrddin Winery in Berlin Center, Ohio. It sits in a secluded area facing the lake. Icons of wine, water, woods and wildlife adorn both its walls and website.

Customers often come bringing picnic baskets and a desire for a bottle from Myrddin’s extensive list .

“For $20 I teach a Mosaic stepping stone class and raffle off the stones. The money goes toward a charity we select each month,” owner Evelyn Sperry said. Their most recent selected charity was the Humane Society.

Both PawsTa Night and Yappy Hour are other charity events which generate funds for  Legacy Dog Rescue of Ohio. On PawsTa Night, customers bring their dogs and enjoy pasta and wine. During Yappy Hour, dogs and owners enjoy more tastings.

“Our dogs Henry and LG are there too for Yappy Hour,” said Evelyn.

Myrddin is branching out. The winery hosted a wedding but would like to have more. Evelyn said, “We hosted one wedding in the vineyard and I did all of the catering. My husband is licensed to officiate the weddings”

Similar to Maize Valley and Barrel Run Crossings, Myrddin also has live musical entertainment. Kristopher said he is & “very excited about their upcoming entertainer, Zac Schaffer,” who will be in the new Twinkle Garden.