History of the Wine & Ale Trail
Sip, sample, and taste your way through the Mansfield/Richland County Wine & Ale Trail. While all of the Trail’s locations leave visitors reminiscing over the unique flavors, friendly atmosphere, and pure charm, there is much more behind the scenes of each winery and brewery, including fascinating history that immerses you in Mansfield and Richland County’s past.
The Wishmaker House Winery, also a Bed and Breakfast located in the beautiful downtown Bellville, was built in 1890 and was originally the home of a doctor. The house sold to another doctor who also used the building as his office. Cassie Swisher, daughter of owners Brad and Karen, heard stories from her 83 year old grandpa about visiting this doctor for shots as a child. Fast forward in time and the doctor’s office was sold and became Meyers Wishmaker House Furniture Store for approximately 40 years. The store sold high end furniture to locations worldwide! One of the most memorable pieces seen at the Wishmaker House is actually their front door. This piece was handcrafted by a local artist and there is no other door like it in the entire world! All of the renovating to build the Bed and Breakfast and winery took an entire three years to complete and their extreme attention to detail truly makes the facility special.
Built around 1914, the Phoenix Brewing Company was originally Schroer Mortuary! The morgue had a hand drawn elevator used to take caskets to all three floors of the building (the prep area, the chapel, and the viewing area) and it still exists in the building today. In 1932, the owner of Schroer Mortuary actually committed suicide in the chapel. That same room now serves as Phoenix’s taproom. If that’s not creepy enough for you, the current owners have actually reported ghostly encounters. After the past owner’s death in 1932, the building was abandoned until the early 1980s when it became a small machine shop. Today you can still experience many aspects of Phoenix’s past along historic pieces around Richland County. The light fixtures throughout the facility are from the old Allstate building on Main Street, the tables are from cut up sections of King Bowling in Ashland, and the metal frames and hardware on the main floor are restored from the original morgue. Brewing is currently done in the basement where all of the embalming and body preparations were previously completed.
In 1910, the facility in which The Vault Wine Bar currently resides started under construction. A year later, the building officially opened as Citizens Bank of Shelby. The original vault that once held thousands of dollars is still intact and is a centerpiece of the business as it stores many wine bottles. Unknown to many people, there is actually another vault in the basement of the building. This wine bar has stunning architecture with marble walls and a 30 ft. ceiling. During the time that Citizens Bank opened, local newspapers were buzzing with pure excitement over the beauty of this building. The pride that the residents of Shelby feel over this location can still be felt today and adds to the overall ambience of The Vault.
Both of these Wine & Ale Trail stops are a part of the same location next to the Geyers Grocery Store in Lexington. The strip mall was built in 1969 and The Happy Grape was a Pharmacy before a winery. Laxton Hollows is a brand new location added to our Trail! Laxton Hollows is Ohio’s only cask ale brewery and only one of three in the nation. In America, people used to drink beer out of a cask rather than cans, bottles, or kegs. Live yeast is used in the cask, which naturally carbonates and conditions the beer. This tradition practically went extinct in America, but it is alive and well at Laxton Hollows! While the facility itself isn’t very old, the brewing technique sure is.
In 1981, a 27 acre blueberry farm opened in Lexington, Ohio called The Blueberry Patch. It wasn’t until 2014 that The Blueberry Patch transformed their greenhouse into the 1285 Winery. The facility itself was built by the owner and his sons from trees on the farm. Much of the building is made from recycled items. 1285 Winery at The Blueberry Patch makes their own wines, including a variety of blueberry wines from the farm. Whether you pick the blueberries yourself or buy a bottle of wine, everything is one of a kind and as fresh as can be!
Hidden from the wandering eye, Cypress Hill Winery is located in the basement of a local restaurant with the entrance actually in the back of an alley. The building was built sometime between 1847 and the early 1900s. In the past, the basement has been used for storage for multiple bars and businesses. At one point, it housed the Wooden Pony Brewery. After being restored and decorated, Cypress Hill is filled with an old world charm including an authentic tasting room with barrels of wine waiting to be bottled. The Cellar is one of the Trail’s hidden gems.
Now that you know some of the secrets from the Wine & Ale Trail’s past, head out and see these wineries, wine bars, and breweries with appreciation for both their past and present.
For more information and help planning your trip visit WineAleTrail.com
Written by Brigitte Meisse, CVB Intern
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