GENEVA, Ohio — Wine and food lovers in northeast Ohio are rejoicing because a new project from the City of Geneva in cooperation with the Ohio Wine Producers Association promises to, “transform the world’s vision of Ohio wines.” in the words of Doniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association and board member of Pairings.Pairings: Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience is the result of weekly, Monday morning, meetings with a passionate group of business and community leaders in Geneva, Ohio. The group discussed ways to encourage economic and community growth in downtown Geneva, Ohio. One idea the group liked was to build a wine and culinary center.After a positive results from a 2010 feasibility study, the Geneva Wine and Culinary Center Feasibility Study, the team decided to move forward with their plans to open a wine and culinary center that focused on Ohio wines and food, but also on education.“We really want to provide a showcase for the winemakers [of Ohio] who are producing world-class wines.” said Winchell.The center will feature only Ohio grown wines and winegrapes, which according a 2008 study, are responsible for $582.8 million dollars of Ohio’s economy.
The centerpiece of the nonprofit facility is an incubator for start-up wineries. The incubator will provide wineries with the tools and space needed to produce, bottle and market their wine. There will be enough space for two start-ups to produce in the incubator.Applicants will be required to submit business and marketing plans for a chance to use the incubator space. Pairings will support the start-up wineries in hopes they will eventually move to their own space.According to Winchell, it costs approximately $1.6 million to get started in the wine business. Pairings’ goal is to ease some of the financial burden by allowing the start-ups to use the incubator for up to three years.Wineries will leave the incubator with a well-rounded portfolio and business experience.Winchell is excited about the project because it will grow Ohio’s “wine culture.”The project will be funded by federal and state grants, public donations and special fundraising events.The proposed 38,000 square foot complex, which is expected to break ground in late 2013, will also house a restaurant, cooking classes, winemaking demonstrations, classrooms for Kent State University’s degree programs in viticulture and enology, a gift shop and a small, fine dining, restaurant.Pairings is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors annually.For more information, or if you’d like to donate, visit Pairings’ website at pairingsohio.org.
To read an overview of Ohio’s wine industry, click here.