This guest post written by Karen Eylon, former director of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau and Ohio tourism enthusiast!
There’s something special about Wyandotte Winery in Gahanna, Ohio. You feel it as soon as you turn onto Wyandotte Drive. “This doesn’t seem right,” you may think, “it’s a neighborhood.” Wyandotte Winery, the oldest winery in Central Ohio, is folksy and lovely and yes, set in cozy residential setting. It was designed and built in 1977 to serve as both a winery and a residence. At the time, it was surrounded by field and forest, but not today. Often visitors feel an odd familiarity upon pulling into the drive, as nostalgia washes over them the way it would if they were arriving at the “Brady Bunch” house. The energy that winery owners Robin and Valerie Coolidge emit is felt immediately and continues upon entering.
Neighborhood setting aside, you really do feel at home. A hearty welcome from Valerie, the self-proclaimed “Chief Whiner” of the operation and the fun-loving staff sets the tone for your experience. Don’t be fooled by the frivolity, these people are serious about wine. They are also very learned about hospitality and creating exceptional experiences – from both culinary and event standpoints.
It may be surprising that Wyandotte Winery was one of the original partners on Gahanna’s Herbal Trail, as they do not serve herbal wines. Valerie Coolidge was a gourmet, even before it was vogue. She has always had an herb garden and her five kids grew up with fresh basil or “leaves” as they called them, on their homemade pizzas. While raising her children, she started a home-based business making upscale cakes. It was wildly successful and today she incorporates her creative culinary flair and extensive herbal knowledge in her work at the winery.
From an herbal perspective, she is most widely known for her delectable Venetian Wine Cake, which, along with other ingredients, is made with cabernet and rosemary. Valerie’s gourmet wine cake menu also includes chocolate port and blackberry wine cakes, so make a note to try them all! Culinary events at the winery tend to sell out quickly, as guests have experienced her catering first-hand and know that they’re in for a treat.
Hump Day Happy Hours, Summer Sizzler Series, Fabulous Fridays with Pizza and Live Music, Women who Wine, Get Crocked at Wyandotte (soup and wine), Colors and Bottles – Art and Wine, and food and wine pairing dinners are just a sampling of the events that include along with award-winning wines, Valerie-inspired culinary and herbal flairs. For a complete listing of special events visit www.wyandottewinery.com.
Although the events are a wonderful way to experience both the wines and Valerie’s creations, visitors can enjoy wine tastings, bites from their small plates menu, and a piece of Venetian Wine Cake at any time. If your schedule permits, stop by for a free winery tour offered every Saturday at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Robin’s easygoing style makes for a fun and interesting tour as you learn about his passion and gift of winemaking.
Valerie, Robin and their staff have a way of turning a seemingly normal occasion–a visit to a winery, into a celebration. Their tagline is true – you really do enter as a customer and leave a friend.
Wyandotte Winery is open Tuesday – Saturday: 1-7 p.m., with extended hours on Friday until 9 p.m. www.wyandottewinery.com. 4640 Wyandotte Dr. Columbus, Ohio 43230 614/476-3624