Friday, July 23, 2010

Craft spirits and Old World winery open in Columbus with tours

Along with rich arts, fashion and culinary offerings, Columbus visitors now can experience the city's first microdistillery at Middle West Sprits in the Short North Arts District. And just a few miles south, Via Vecchia Winery has just opened in the city’s historic Brewery District. Both offer tours, tastings and retail sales, as well as an intriguing look into how wine and spirits are made. These newcomers join popular artisan breweries -- Columbus Brewing Company and Elevator Brewing Company –and Camelot Cellars winery.

Business partners Ryan Lang and Brady Konya launched the state's first artisan distillery after meeting and discovering they shared a dream. Lang comes from four generations of distillers from Pennsylvania, including his grandmother who was jailed for bootlegging during Prohibition. Middle West's first product, OYO Vodka, is receiving rave reviews, even when compared with some of the priciest vodkas on the market. The small-batch artisan beverage is crafted from a mash made of carefully selected soft winter wheat from nearby Findlay, Ohio. Pronounced oh-WHY-oh, OYO is the Native American word for Ohio. Middle West plans to soon be distilling whiskey, rum and other unique spirits.

Via Vecchia, or, "the old way" in Italian, lives up to its name, as partners Paolo Rosi, Marty Huster and Mike Elmer use a heritage process derived from Rosi's family roots in Tuscany, where he comes from a long line of vintners. Already opened, Via Vecchia Winery will celebrate a Grand Opening in time for the fall grape harvest. The winery crushes grapes on site for winemaking, offer tours and tastings of its unique selection of red wines and serves a light selection of antipasto. Currently, the winery is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays 6-10 p.m. for tastings and tours, though hours may soon be expanded. Via Vecchia also hosts special events and weddings.

“We want to involve our guests in the entire process, everything from grape crushing to bottling, corking and labeling the wine," said Rossi. "Wine is meant to be an experience.”

Columbus is a city unlike any other. Vibrant and alive, Ohio’s capital city is known for its unique style: an uncommon blend of neighborhoods, events, attractions and accommodations. Free visitors guides, maps and complete information about visiting Columbus are available at or by calling 1-866-397-2657 (1-866-EXP-COLS). The website offers on-line booking at more than 125 hotels.

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