Shop owner turns avocation into winemaking job
Winery uses fanciful names on the bottles of wines it makes. For example, a white Chardonnay goes by Big Spender and the red Cabernet Sauvignon is known as Call Me a Cab.
“Guido & Mario (another Cabernet), that’s my dog and cat,” said co-owner and winemaker Jeff Kirby. “I always joke and say High Maintenance (a Bordeaux) is after my wife and Flawless (a Riesling) is after me.”
Jeff and Gina Kirby began attending wine tastings while living in Arizona, and enjoyed the experience and people they met. Moving back to their home state, Jeff began making wine in his basement and decided to turn a hobby into a business.
After opening about a year ago, last week the Powell Village Winery was named 2013 Business of the Year by the Greater Powell Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Our first year in business, we hit our financial projections in less than six months,” Kirby said. He quickly found that his 1,300-square-foot tasting room on South Liberty Street wasn’t big enough to meet the demand for products such as the blackberry-flavored sweet wine Buckeye Nation, so he and his family now do their bottling in a warehouse up the road in Wolf Commerce Park.
The juices are shipped in from California vineyards, and from there, Kirby and his staff ferment, stabilize, blend, bottle, label and package the wines in the warehouse. Kirby said he hopes to use Ohio grapes in the future and perhaps one day have his own local vineyard.
“Being in wine and wine-making from the ground up is the ultimate goal, from (planting) it in the ground to pouring it into a glass,” he said.
The winery pours varietals such as Soulmate (a Merlot) by the glass or bottle Tuesdays through Saturdays in the 34-seat tasting room. However, the most popular way to sample the fruit of the vine is a Wine Flight — four half-glasses chosen by the customer served from a wooden paddle. Homemade bread shaped like a cluster of grapes and light snacks are also offered, with an appetizer in the works.
Kirby, 31, said he was drawn to opening the winery in Powell because of the quaintness of its downtown and its unique shops, as well as the support of local officials. The Kirbys moved to Powell last fall.
“I think the relationships we’ve developed with customers is probably the best thing I enjoy,” Jeff Kirby said of the business. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to take an idea that’s in your head, be able to physically build it and have people come in and like it.”