Cleveland, specifically Willoughby, has a hidden gem of a wine maker doing some very very interesting wines. All wines are made with imported grapes from Washington and California, two of my personal favorites having invested in trips visiting both. As a result of those visits I understand the wine is making and I want to tell locals about it.
I had the pleasure of being served by the winemaker and we definitely had great conversation about the grape sourcing and wine making approaches. Had a tour of the modest production facility pictured below
Producing around 2,500 gallons or about 1000 cases, the effort is relatively small but very precise, with big investments being made in the imported grape choices, which will explain later.
The wine maker, Ed Trebets, was winemaker for 13 years at Debonne Vineyards (where he won over 1,000 medals for his wines) and is a chemist who also serves as adjunct faculty at Kent State. Learn more about Ed Trebets at urbanvintner.net
HIDDEN GEM LOCATION – The Urban Vitner protection facility is at an out-of- the way location at 37484 North Industrial Parkway. As the name implies, it’s a former industrial street and discovery task to locate the marginal street off Vine Street. That’s why I’m calling it ‘The Hidden Gem’.
Simply, the wines are delicious, and advanced creations for Ohio. A couple wines are are youthful, yet so power-packed that they are promising to blossom with age. Here’s more about each of the wines I tasted.
The Sauvignon Blanc uses Washington grapes. It is lovely, soft, like lemon curd cream, with nice summer-like flavors and refreshing acidity.
Semillion is a common Bordeaux blender not often seen on its own. It was very viscous abd clingy-sticky and a nice way and I found it reminiscent of a creamy lemon pie. I bought this one to share with a friend who buys lemon pie whenever available as a dessert choice! $17.99
The 2020 Rose’ is Syrah sourced from the Yakima region of Washington. It has a lovely, clear salmon color. This was very unusual wine. I got a great deal of strawberry, but there was an aftertaste I couldn’t place. The winemaker says he kept the acid level high so it would last longer. By contrast the 2018 has smoothed out and is just lovely. The 2018 is ready now and I recommend, $18.99.
Cabernet – There are several products called ‘Muddy Paws’ in which the proceeds benefit Geauga Humane Society. The Cabernet is Washington Walla Walla. I sell a wine from that area and I always think red delicious apple; however, this wine shocked me with its cab-level power-packed tannins and acids. The winemaker agreed it was youthful and could lay down for at least two or three years to balance out those power pack tannins and allow more fruit to surface.. I wish I was a person who could lay it down or I’d get a case and set it aside, but like most Americans I drink the wine I have now with no space for aging future potential. For those who do, this is your wine!
The Red Mountain Cab is special. Having traveled for 3 weeks in Washington, I understand how special this grape was for an Ohio wine maker to obtain, and probably how expensive!
Education about where this grape is sourced is important to understand the incredible value of this wine. Red Mountain is THE smallest Washington Viticultural area, only 4,040-acre area in the southeastern portion of Yakima Valley AVA. Wines from this area have worldwide acclaim and are some of the most sought after wines in Washington State It’s also a geologic phenomenon of glacier-deposited volcanic soil brought from Northern Canada and deposited in this low-lying Washington area. Other areas like it are Dosier-corridor in Oregon, and Kimmeridgian clay (small oyster shells) found in Chablis France. In Washington having any Red Mountain fruit is coveted and promoted by those winemakers who brag about it’s presence in their wine. Soooo, how did Ed Trebets get some in Ohio has got to be a long story.
I remember liking everything that tasted from Red Mountain and Urban Vitner’s wine is no exception. I bought a bottle at $29.99 and I think it’s a TREMENDOUS value. Flavors of blackberry with lighter tannin and body and very easy sipping. I look forward to having this in the backyard on a nice summer night, and expect it to pair well with any grilled foods.
The Cabernet is Napa and also rare to obtain in Ohio. It’s handled very well by this winemaker and features raspberry flavors with chewy tannins. At 39.99 and making just 20 cases, this wine should sell fast. It’s what you expect from a California cab and could be laid down longer to balance the fruit and power tannin base.
Carmenere from Chile was tried last. This wine featured high acidity and tannins. It screamed out for food because of the mouth watering effect of the high acids. The fruit is secondary and hidden but would be pulled out with food. We discussed that it would pair well with something Smokey like barbecued food, brisket or smoked gouda cheese.
The wine prices range from 17.99 to $39.99 are justified because of the locations where the high quality grapes are coming. Grapes from Yakima Valley and Red Mountain obtained in Ohio is just surprising…. nor are they going to come cheap because they’re so desirable. When I was in Washington and Oregon these wines started at $40 to 75.00, and California cabs have gotten obscenely priced well over $100. So while the prices may seem high compared to mass-produced commercial products, they’re not overpriced in comparison to California and Washington… They’re a bargain! For a small wine maker it’s quite an investment that needs to be recouped.
Urban Vitner is A HIDDEN GEM that I hope will draw wine enthusiasts.