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Signature Wines Producing Local Drinks Using Traditional Techniques

Walker Evans Walker Evans Signature Wines Producing Local Drinks Using Traditional Techniques
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For almost a decade, Kelly Harvey has been producing wine in a warehouse on the east side of Columbus. Those wines are made with traditional techniques that include the crushing of grapes, fermenting process, and the aging of specific wines. The warehouse location has also become home to tastings, tours and a popular Sangria Festival that is coming up in August.

We spoke more with Kelly to find out about the wines and the business behind Signature. Our full Q&A interview can be found below:

Columbus Underground is celebrating Wine Week with features on local wineries, wine shops, wine bars and more! This series is brought to you by Ohio Wines!

Q: Can you start off by telling us a bit about the history of Signature Wines?

A: For a number of years I was simply a home winemaker with a little winery I had constructed in my basement. After winning a number of awards from the Amateur Winemakers’ Guild, and with my background in biology, what started as a hobby grew out of control, and I founded Signature Wines is 2004.

I made my first vintage in 2005 and, after allowing the wine to age properly, began selling in 2008.

Q: What types of wines are you best known for?

A: Our 12 year old barrel aged Port,  our Cabernet Sauvignon, and our Chardonnay.

Q: Where are your grapes grown?

A: I make my red wines starting with whole grapes, therefore, I can only get whole grapes from as far away as they can successfully travel to Columbus. The majority of my grapes come from the Alexander Valley and the Sierra Foothills, premium grape growing regions of California.

I work with a wonderful grape distributor in Cleveland. The distributor’s family has had this business for a number of generations and has an enormous number of contacts in California. Therefore, he can get the best quality grapes depending on the seasonal growing conditions in a region and the type of grape I am looking for.

Although two (Port and Rose’) of my seven wines are made with Ohio grapes, Ohio simply does not have enough degree days sun to produce grapes that will result in quality dry red wines. In addition, given the ever-expanding number of wineries in the state, Ohio does not grow enough grapes to supply all of the wineries in the state.

Q: What would you say is the most unique thing about your winery?

A: We are located in a 3,600 square foot warehouse space in an industrial park on the east side of Columbus, approximately 10 minutes from Downtown. Unlike most wineries in urban locations, we make our red wines starting with whole grapes and have all the equipment necessary to de-stem and crush the grapes, ferment the must, press the skins and seeds from the wine, and age the wine. We are making our wine using traditional, small scale winemaking techniques.

Making wine from whole grapes is hard and takes a long time (typically 1-3 years) to have a product ready to bottle and sell. But we believe the end result being a high quality of wine is worth the extra time and effort.

Q: In addition to the production of wine, are your warehouse facilities home to other uses?

A: Last year, needing additional production space, I tripled the size of the winery. Expanding and renovating the winery has increased the types of events that can be accommodated at the winery.

By far, what I do the most are 1.5-2 hour tours and tastings at the winery. These are essentially mini -winemaking seminars, while guests enjoy wine, led by the owner and winemaker, rather than simply being a quick wine tasting in a tasting room.

Our largest event each year is our annual Sangria Festival in August. We have a live Latin band, a taco truck, sangria and wine tasting bars, and other treats. This year’s festival will be August 17, and tickets can be purchased in advanced at sangriafest2013.eventbrite.com.

Throughout the year, we also host many different types of food and wine pairing events. We have had multi-course Farm to Table, Grape to Glass food and wine dinners with a small, family owned, local farm. We have partnered with A La Carte Food Tours for a variety of events- Chocolate and Wine Pairings, A Celebration of Ginger, How to Throw the Perfect Cinco de Mayo Party.

We have recently started working with The Party Studio and Stairway to Art to have painting events at the winery.

The winery is also available to rent for personal events such as weddings, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, and ladies’ nights out. A variety of charities have chosen the winery for their fundraising events. The winery is also available to businesses to rent for team building events and employee training. We allow those renting the winery to bring in their own food, or work with one of our caterers.

Q: Where can our readers find Signature Wines in Central Ohio?

A: Because we specialize in creating personalized labels, we primarily sell directly to consumers and businesses. However, Signature Wines can be purchased at Celebrate Local at Easton and the Wine Bistro in Worthington. I am in the process of redesigning the Signature Wines labels and after they are completed, I may try to be in more retail locations.

Q: Anything else we should know about your wines or winery?

A: Signature Wines specializes in offering a large selection of photo quality customized labels. We also work with individuals and businesses to create their own private wine labels. Signature Wines is unique in offering customized labels at no additional charge and with no minimum order.

More information can be found online at www.SignatureWinesOfOhio.com.

Photos and video via Signature Wines.

From July 8th to July 14th, Columbus Underground is Celebrating Wine Week, brought to you by Ohio Wines! Ohio has a long and proud agricultural history, and the wine industry is a significant part of it. Since the 1830s, vineyards have thrived from the Ohio River Valley to the Lake Erie islands. Ohio is now home to more than 160 wineries. Ohio winemakers and Ohio consumers have discovered the unique influence Ohio’s soils and climate have on the creation of fine wines.

We invite you to use “Ohio Wines Love at First Sip” at www.tasteohiowines.com to learn more about Ohio’s fruit of the vine. Whether it’s a local institution or a charming boutique winery, we think you’ll agree that Ohio wines are “Love at First Sip.”

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