Editor’s Note: This is the 13th in a series about iconic Gahanna businesses to be featured monthly.
Enter as a customer, leave as a friend.
That’s the slogan for Wyandotte Winery, a business that was opened in 1977 at 4640 Wyandotte Drive in Columbus on property that was all field and forest.
Robin and Valerie Coolidge are the third owners of the business that’s part of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Herbal Cocktail Trail, featuring a lemonade infused with lavender, made with white wine.
Coolidge said the location is one of those strange mixes: It's technically in Columbus but has a Gahanna ZIP code(43230) and is in Westerville City Schools.
“We do consider ourselves to be Gahanna here,” he said. “If you go a quarter-mile up the road, you cross into Columbus. At some point, this was all annexed. We do a lot of work with Gahanna.”
No matter the mailing address, Coolidge said, the most important aspect of the winery is for people to enjoy themselves.
“We try to be a very nonintimidating place,” he said. “People get very intimidated by wine. We don’t want them to be. I always tell people I have one rule about wine and it’s really simple: Drink what you like.”
Coolidge, an Elyria native, said wine is about enjoying food, family and friends.
“All the rest of the rules are just guidelines,” he said. “Red wine with red meat is fine. White wine with fish is fine. That’s kind of the general rule. I tell people if you enjoy white wine with steak, for God's sake, drink white wine with steak. If you like red wine with fish, drink red wine with fish. It’s about enjoying yourself.”
He said Wyandotte tries to break through some of those mysteries that make people feel uncomfortable about enjoying their wine.
“We do dry wines, sweet wines, red wines, white wines, and we have some fruit wines. We make a variety of styles, so everybody who comes in can find something they enjoy.”
A recent Google review by Karen Woosley said Wyandotte is her favorite winery to visit.
“I highly recommend the Sweet William wine,” she said. “The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxing.”
Coolidge said Sweet William is a wine that has been around the winery for 35 to 40 years and is a customer favorite.
The label describes it as Wyandotte’s signature sweet red table wine, a rich blend of traditional American and French-American hybrid grape varieties that enhance any occasion.
The winery’s Sangria is the perfect amount of sweet and citrus, according to another Google review by Melissa DiFrango.
“Wyandotte Winery is a great place after a long week,” DiFrango wrote. "The staff is friendly. I love their large patio out back. Friday nights they have a food truck and live entertainment.”
Coolidge said the neighborhood grew up around the winery.
“Now we’re tucked back in this little neighborhood,” he said. “It’s very unique, and we like it. Floyd Jones built the wine shop, and the rest of the facility is the house. Down below is a large cellar. That’s where I make the wine.”
The winery hasn’t hosted tours since the pandemic, but might restart them in a month or two.
Tastings are available by the glass or bottle.
“It’s really just a place to come in and enjoy the wine,” Coolidge said. “Tastings are a dollar a taste. We don’t have any set flights. You can try as many or few of the wines on our shelf as you would like for that dollar each. We’re not one of the wineries that will give you a tray with little plastic cups on it. We try to come to the table and pour the wine. If we have time, we talk a little bit about the wine.”
He said meat, cheese and crackers and pizza are available to eat with the wine, and sometimes they host food trucks.
Coolidge said the winery sets itself apart from others because they want people to leave as friends.
“We aren’t into fooling people into drinking stuff they don’t like,” he said. “The personality of the winery is very homey. Our employees are good at being friendly and being open.”
As of May 31, 375 wineries are registered in Ohio, including three or four that were opened in June, said Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association.
"The wine industry is flourishing; the regulatory environment is really good for us," she said. "The wineries are very collaborative, and we are blessed to be within 500 miles of half the population of the country. In addition, our wines have been winning recognition for quality at competitions across the nation."
Wyandotte's business hours are 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, 3 to 9 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 7 p.m. Saturdays. It’s closed Sundays through Wednesdays.
For the latest updates and relaunch of free tours, check the winery's Facebook page, facebook.com/wyandottewinery.
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Gahanna Businesses: Wyandotte Winery mixes drinks with food, family and friends