Update: CLE Urban Winery opens tonight
(Original story 11/18/15): If Destiny Burns has her way, Cleveland Heights will become the newest “Wine Country” region of Northeast Ohio. She and winemaker Dave Mazzone are in the process of launching CLE Urban Winery, a working winery and tasting room that will open this spring in the Cedar Lee District of the Heights.
Following in the footsteps of small craft breweries, urban wineries are popping up across the country. This small-scale commercial winery will source high-quality juice from around the world, but will handcraft all wine on site.
“We’ll be making, bottling and selling about 20 different varieties,” Burns explains. “It will be just like going out to taste wines in the farmlands of Ohio, but without the two-hour drive.”
Taking shape in the 4,400-square-foot garage space that once was home to Studio You pottery studio (2180B Lee Rd.), the winery will feature a Tasting Bar and highly visible wine production area, where wines will be vinted throughout the year. The spacious rear section of the winery is perfect for events and fundraisers while the front seating area with garage door will be ideal during warm weather.
In addition to casual wine tastings, CLE Urban Winery will offer wine education and appreciation programs, wine clubs and classes. Budding vintners will even have a chance to make their very own batches of wine.
“Since we are not tied to any specific growing cycle we will be making wine year-round,” says Burns. “The wines are not meant to be snooty; they are meant to be urban and gritty and accessible and fun. Our motto is good wine made fun.”
Both Burns and Mazzone are former Clevelanders. Burns is a former volunteer firefighter and retired U.S. Navy officer. Mazzone pursued a winemaking education in the Napa Valley before making wine for and consulting with some of Ohio’s top wineries.
The winery will sell only the wines that it produces on-site. If you want a beer or cocktail, notes Burns, Lee Road has plenty of other great options. All wines will be named to celebrate and honor the city both once again call home.
“We love the city and our wine will be branded to the city that we love,” adds Burns. “We’ll have Tremont Tempranillo, Lake Erie Riesling.”
A small kitchen will put out wine-friendly small plates like meat and cheese boards, dips and spreads.
Burns expects to begin making wine in March and selling it in May.