A hand-painted crest with a knight’s steel helmet ringed with plumes, a shield, sword and crown welcomes you to one of Stark County’s newest spots to sip wine—honey wine, that is. McAlpine Meadery, which opened a year ago, brews artisan honey wine, also known as mead. Decorated in medieval accoutrements that reflect the owners’ love of history, McAlpine Meadery offers 30 different flavors, including orange blossom, apricot, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, pear and star-thistle, which is made with star-thistle honey, raisins and tea. The meadery, which is open year-round, provides tastings for $1. Glasses are $5, and bottles range in price from $15 to $20. It also offers live music every weekend.
Jeremiah Geisinger, president and chief executive officer of McAlpine Meadery, talks about how his family built the meadery:
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN OPEN?
“We started about a year ago. We got a federal grant (through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities) to start because my dad is disabled. It was, ‘You can put my dad on Social Security for the rest of his life or we will give him a job.’ ” Jeremiah now operates the meadery with his father, Jerome Geisinger, and brother, Marc Geisinger.
WHY MAKE WINE OUT OF HONEY INSTEAD OF GRAPES?
“It’s the world’s oldest fermented beverage, and our dad taught us to enjoy history, especially medieval times. … The only way to try it was to make it.” It typically takes between six months and a year to make a batch of honey wine.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE NAME FOR THE MEADERY?
“It is our family name. It is the first king of Scotland. His name was Kenneth MacAlpin, and we are descendants of him.”
WHAT KIND OF WINE DO YOU SERVE AND SELL?
“We have 20-some flavors usually at one time. We try to go all natural, and we don’t use chemicals. … We use raisins and teas for tannins instead of dumping in powdered (tannins).”
Slutz and Slutz Winery
Virg Slutz (pronounced slootz) started the winery a decade ago as his retirement hobby. The now- 80-year-old Canton Township resident learned how to make wine from his German grandfather as a child and continues to make his wines by hand, although he now uses more modern techniques.
“I have a longer fermentation period,” Slutz said. “I use way less chemicals. I use only enough chemical in my wine to keep it from spoiling.” The winery, which is separate from Slutz’ home located on the same property, is open whenever Slutz is home. He recommends calling ahead. At the winery, you’ll find between eight and 10 different types of wine. “My drys, they’re dry. But my drys are not like most manufactured drys,” Slutz said. “You don’t have the after-taste puckery. My wine doesn’t have that because of the several techniques I use, primarily.” Slutz said he waits to bottle his wines until they are about 2 years old. Most of the bottled wines he sells are 6 and 8 years old. He sells them for $12.50 a bottle, no matter the type of wine. “This is my hobby thing,” Slutz said. “If I get too big, then it’s a job.”
>>TYPES OF WINE: eight to 10, including cabernet, shiraz, pinot noir, red zinfandel, white zinfandel, concord, niagara and merlot
Newman Creek Cellars
Tucked in a storefront in downtown Massillon, Newman Creek Cellars owners Bob and Keelie Mann provide an extensive variety of wines, all bottled in-house, with most of them carrying names invoked by King Arthur’s Camelot. You can taste wines such as Excalibur, a pinot noir; Arthur’s Favorite, a cabernet sauvignon; Guinevere’s Delight, an off dry Gewurztraminer; and Black Knight, a sweet black raspberry merlot. One of the newest vintages is the City of Champions, a dry California blend of Colombard, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, that’s named after Massillon and features a tiger on its label. Newman Creek Cellars, which opened in 2012, also offers supplies for the home wine and beer enthusiast.
GRZ Vineyards—whose name comes from the last names of owners Dan Guappone, Don Robinson and Pete Zagray— is what Robinson calls a “teeny tiny” winery that they began in 2007 in his former pole barn. He said the winery can seat up to 10 people comfortably. GRZ offers several varieties of wine, including its super sweet Sweet Niagara, its best-seller Devil’s Rouge, which is a Concord blend, and Fireside Red, which is a blend of merlot and cabernet. They offer tastes for 50 cents each, wine by the glass for $3.25 and bottles of wine for less than $12.
Make it a whole wine experience. From tours to cooking classes and painting parties, among other events, Gervasi has a little bit of everything for every type of wine-lover.
Vino Fabbricanti Winery
Maize Valley Winery & Craft Brewery
The Winery at Perennial Vineyards
Vinoteca Wine Bar
Grapes in a Glass
The Barrel Room
Drinks with friends. An after work meet-up to dissect the day’s work. Throwing back a pint or two during the big game. Romantic moments over a bottle of fine red. Saturday night dance parties. Acoustic riffs and raucous crowds. Celebrating with a bottle of bubbly.
Whatever the occasion, Stark County’s watering holes are as diverse as their patrons.
As the sun goes down and you begin your search for killer cocktails, handcrafted selections, expert whiskey slingers or lively entertainment, let Stark After Dark be your essential guide.