Racks of obsidian and golden bottles line the monolithic wine wall of Camelot Cellars's rustic boutique, bringing together varietals crafted by the winery and selections from around the world. Beneath chandeliers and brick facades, guests clink glasses of aromatic vintages and play favorite xylophone songs on themed tasting flights served atop the smooth contours of the locally hewn wooded bar. Small plates of cheeses, meats, and bread also gather nearby, cleansing palates and bringing out the wine’s subtler tones. Nearby, the convivial sound of good cheer emanated from the Tuscan Table and the private Tuscan Room, which house large groups and may be rented out for gatherings.
Not satisfied to fill their casks with only their own brews, the winery also aids clients in handcrafting their own artisan wines. With the help of a resident expert, prospective vintners assemble their preferred style of wine, leaving it in the capable hands of the winery for 6–12 weeks. Each bottle is then identified with a custom label, making perfect keepsakes for weddings, parties, or obedience-school graduations.
Typically, when wine lovers try to find a new wine bar, they look for a cozy hole-in-the wall filled with gauzy curtains and illuminated by candles. When they're looking for the Battery Park Wine Bar, though, they just have to glance up at the towering smokestack studded with enormous red letters. Owner Mike Graley wanted to create a wine bar that would appeal to a beer drinker, according to an article in Cleveland Magazine, that also complemented the venue's "hip vibe and smart wine list of familiar favorites." Bartenders and servers regale guests with descriptions of their more than 100 wines available by the bottle and rotating selection of more than 25 wines by the glass. The kitchen crafts small plates designed to complement the fermented flavors with braised octopus and spinach salads, flatbreads spread with pumpkin-seed pesto, and thoughtfully composed charcuterie boards.
The rehabilitated space creates a modern industrial aesthetic by merging the old and the new. Exposed brick, high ceilings, and a massive garage door allude to the building's past, and geometric light fixtures hang between the gleaming ductwork above high-top tables. Guests can enjoy a drink at the polished wooden bar, stop in to pick up an impressive bottle before a house party, or reenact lessons from Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land at the pool table.
At Z Place, oenophiles sample a medley of newly discovered domestic and imported wine varietals along with handpicked pairings of complementary cheeses. Douse your mouth with red selections including the medium-bodied merlot—which harmonizes with tangy gruyere, parmesan, and gorgonzola—as well as the mildly fruity cabernet sauvignon, complemented with nutty and sharp cheddar and blue cheese. Feta, goat cheese, and asiago bring the tart notes of the sauvignon blanc to life like a lime playing a kazoo. Grab a grape-blooded partner for a sipping soirée within Z Place's charming pale-yellow and red confines, littered with an abundance of wine bottles, high-top tables, chalkboard signage, and a Persian rug.
The family of vintners at The Grape and Granary have concocted vinos for years, and their ancillary enthusiasms for beer brewing and other DIY drinks have led to some one-of-a-kind grape distillates. The Grape and Granary’s specialty Jalapeno Pepper wine ($12.95) saunters across the palate's runway and leaves behind sweet and spicy smoke trails. This particular semi-dry white—sold only in Ohio by buckeye-flavored salesmen—pairs well with piquant cuisines and tabasco-flavored frozen yogurt. A jalapeño pepper luxuriates in every bottle. The Grape and Granary also culls dry wines from grapes born, raised, and mostly educated in California’s Central Valley such as the dry red 2009 Renaissance Wine Cellars merlot ($12.99), which boasts a light body with dry, fruity tones in hot pursuit.
Some partnerships—Fred and Ginger, Holmes and Watson, Rocky and Bullwinkle—seem predestined for greatness. Such was the case with Jeff and Jill Van Horne. Jeff, a wine collector, married his talents with Jill's gourmet cooking to create The Wine Loft, where their chemistry translates into delicious food and drink pairings. Stepping inside is akin to joining one of their dinner parties, with fellow guests lounging on sofas throughout the space and ordering cocktails or beer from the full bar.
Of course, the starring libation is wine. The cellar below the restaurant can store close to 2,000 bottles at a steady 58 degrees. More than 200 wines arrive at tables by the bottle, and 75 can be poured by the glass, complementing a variety of small plates and entrees. If you aren't sure what libation would best bring out the flavor of your lamb lollipops, servers gladly assist—or, you could attend one of The Wine Loft's wine education classes. These meet monthly to cover topics such as matching wine with chocolate or observing proper wine etiquette, which dictates that whomever uncorks the bottle must plant the cork and raise the resultant tree.