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WARREN DILLAWAY / Star Beacon THE KOSICEK family has opened Kosicek Vineyards on Route 534 where the family has farmed grapes since the 1920s. (From left back row) Emma, Mauri and Tony and (foreground) Anthony Kosicek display the new winery bar area.

Kosicek Vineyards, at 636 State Route 534 in Harpersfield, is open for business.

The winery opened on Nov. 8 and despite the cold weather has seen its business increase steadily. Owner Anthony "Tony" Kosicek said the winery had been in the works for four years before opening. He called his winery a family "dream come true."

"This was a family farm since the 1920s, originally owned by my grandfather," Kosicek said. "My dad also owned Sonny Lanes in Harpersfield, right next door. We've been wanting to start a winery for a while."

Kosicek said the 56- acre farm has 20 acres devoted to growing grapes. The winery serving area is about 2,00 square feet. It can seat around 75 people.  A new deck has been added to the serving area to handle crowd overflow this summer.

"We produce around 5,000 gallons of wine per season," he said. "It was a bad season because of cold this year, but we have enough of our own wine to get through a few seasons more."

Kosicek Vineyards grows Vinifera grapes as well as Concord grapes. Vinifera wines at Kosicek Vineyards include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Vidal Blanc and Concord.

"Our goal is to keep everything local," he said. "We pair our wine with local meat and cheese in our appetizers and use local talent for entertainment."

Kosicek uses cheese from the Mayfield Road Creamery in Orwell and meat from the Trumbull Locker in Ashtabula County. He said there is always entertainment on Fridays, and after Easter the winery will be open from Tuesday through Sunday. He hopes to soon feature steak fries using his dad's Sonny Lanes steak marinade.

"We'll be cooking steaks over an open fire using the famous marinade," he said.

Kosicek said he credits other wineries in the area for helping him start his winery. He said the Ohio State Grape Research Center in Kingsville also helped a lot.

"This area is full of world class wineries," he said. "Everyone has been really helpful. The Grape Research Center has been extremely helpful. They keep track of our progress and help us stay on the cutting edge of wine grape growing."

Kosicek also gets a lot of help from his wife Mauri and his daughter Emma (11) and his son Anthony (9). Mauri has worked for Dr. Seeds in Ashtabula for 18 years, and Kosicek still works for Great Lakes Auto in Ashtabula, as he has for the last 16 years.

He said the Grand River Appellation grape growing region is a world class destination for wine lovers. He's received compliments for his wines from Europeans who have visited the winery, and expects more visitors from around the world this coming season.

"We all grew up in this area and really feel connected to the community," he said. "We think Kosicek Vineyards is a great way of giving back to the community. You have to strive to make great wine, and we've been lucky to have the opportunity to do it here in Harpersfield. We're now part of a great local tradition."

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