By STACY MILLBERG - For the Star Beacon
Pastor John Munday, of the Park Street Christian Church, prayed over the newly planted vines at the site of Pairings Wine and Culinary Experience, Saturday, offering a blessing for the growth of the vines as well as the community.
“Let the grapevines be a symbol of growth in the community,” he said.
The project recently received a $45,000 donation from KeyBank, which now holds naming rights to the education and culinary center. The donation is considered a significant step for the proposed 38,000-square-foot non-profit business incubator.
Saturday, committee members and other officials celebrated the future harvest as well as the project’s potential.
Mark Winchell, director of the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitor Bureau, said having the support of the City of Geneva has been instrumental as the project has moved forward.
“We’ve been talking about this for some time,” he said. “It started with a conversation about changing the names of streets and has morphed into what it is now.”
The vines planted on the site feature a variety of different grapes common to this growing region. Double A vineyards donated the vines, which include Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Riesling grapes. There are also Concord, Catawba, Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin grapes. The Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin are both hybrids and the Vidal Blanc will eventually yield ice wine, said Doniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association.
“These are all typical of this area,” she said. “This area has a long tradition of growing grapes.”
Pairings will include restaurant and banquet facilities, cooking classes, wine making demonstrations, incubator facilities for start-up wineries, educational culinary demonstrations, office space and a gift shop.
Jennifer Brown, who has been working on funding and development for Pairings, said plans are moving forward. A new driveway has been constructed at the former Geneva Elementary School property on Park Avenue, where the center will be constructed. Earlier this week grape vines were planted to begin the center’s “teaching vineyard,” which will provide vines for classes in harvesting, pruning, cultivating and growing.
Pairings will begin with the start-up project “Windows on Pairings,” a smaller version of the wine center built inside an existing barn. The project will allow Pairings staff to develop as a brand, gauge sales, build foot traffic and perfect the concierge, special event offerings and educational and cooking classes, Brown said.
For more information on Pairings, or to view the artist’s renderings of the proposed facility, visit www.pairingsohio. com.