By Jason Jugenheimer and Flight Crew
HUBBARD, Ohio — While the Flight Crew traditionally focuses on beer, we love meeting people who dedicate their hearts and souls to any craft industry, people who display the passion that drives them.
Passion is a word we use to describe what brewers think about beer, winemakers what they think about wine and a mead producer – well, what they think about mead.
Nate Wilson has this passion for all three. Oh, and for cider and soda water too. Plus, there’s his passion for developing and encouraging the growth of his business and other businesses in the community.
Nate, like many who open craft breweries, wineries or other craft businesses, started out as a hobby. He was making wine with his buddy on the weekends in someone’s garage. Then he took an unusual leap – not to beer, but to mead.
Since he’s a former science teacher, the chemistry behind it has excited him. But talking to Nate, you
can tell he likes the story behind it all too.
Mead (fermented honey water) is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. Like many things, its origin is debated. Historians agree, however, that the mead is thousands of years old, possibly dating back to 20,000 years ago.
Nate is a purist and believes in getting honey for his mead from places he trusts, like his supplier in Auburn, Ohio. He believes in patience.
“If you strain the mead, you’re just rushing the process,” he says. “It takes time to get it right.”
Nate and his wife, Dani, have seen Woodland Cellars grow using this philosophy and expand operations to The Manor on Logan Avenue in Liberty Township.
They purchased and renovated the former retreat of the Diocese of Youngstown and are creating a wonderful space that already hosts events. They have big plans for the future, including a bed and breakfast, restaurant, and more event space.
Their Hubbard location, 212 N. Main St., is also attracting more local businesses, becoming a destination location, which will include an upscale coffee shop and cigar lounge. Combine all of this with expanding outdoor space for entertainment and recreation as the weather warms, and Woodland Cellars becomes a must-see destination, too.
Oh and the food is phenomenal, provided by Frank and Mary Ann Cimmento. It has a variety of options including phenomenal burgers.
You can find Woodland Cellars wine and mead at a variety of local retailers and restaurants, including Havana House, Vintage Estates, The Casual Pint, and A&C Beverage, to name a few.
Here are some of the things we enjoyed during our visit.
Kolsch (5.7% ABV)
Brian Long: Using the noble Saaz and Tettnang hops, Woodland Cellars produces a crisp, clean Kolsch. I often use a Kolsch to guide my beer-drinking buds into the craft world and as a great marker to indicate the quality of a brewery. This Kolsch is a great beer to pair with just about any meal, including Woodland Cellars burgers. She’s light, with fruity characteristics and a subtle hopping that lets you savor both beer and food.
Pear Cider (7.0% ABV)
Jfrom Sanfilippo: Sometimes the flight crew gets lost in all the beer reviews we write. During this visit, I noticed that Wilson had a wide variety of choices: ciders, wines, beers and meads. I chose the pear cider… I guess that’s why they call me “Cider Boy”.
One thing I noticed: it wasn’t too sweet like a lot of ciders. This one was a bit dry. The smell was something else though. I poked my nose into the glass several times to enjoy the aroma. It smelled like standing in an orchard picking fresh pears. Definitely the one to try the next time you are in Hubbard
Porter (5.6% ABV)
Dave Shively: One evening when we were treated to fine wines, artisanal meads, ciders, seltzers and beer, I was drawn to the simplicity and authenticity of the doorman at Woodland Cellars. This top-fermented beer was light, with a nice balance of malty sweetness and bitter hopping, with hints of coffee and chocolate.
It paired beautifully with the Cafe Cimento Mushroom Cheeseburger, which was simply outstanding. It’s always a good night when you’re lucky enough to find a destination that combines great food with great adult beverages. I’ll be back.
Eye of Odin Jormungandr (14% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer: I will be frank. I’ve never been a big fan of mead, although I don’t have much experience with mead. The ones I’ve tried have been incredibly soft, which isn’t my thing. Nate opened the palace for me.
Jormungandr is one of the most complex things I’ve had to date. Very floral on the nose with hints of spices, this mead ends in semi-dry and semi-sweet with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. I got more honey on the finish than the original Eye of Odin, which is also a fantastic mead. This experience will definitely make me discover more meads.
Roger Gillespie: You will be hard pressed to find another local winery that offers its own Malbec produced winery. Maybe it’s because it’s a little too expensive since the juice comes from grapes harvested in Argentina. Nate took a risk and produced an excellent offering.
This wine offers a palette of flavors covered with a touch of smoke. It’s a bit dry but has plum and blackberry notes that enhance the full-bodied mouthfeel.
Recommended Flight Pattern: Relax for an evening of drink and fun at Woodland Cellars.
Pictured: Nate Wilson found his passion when he started making wine with a pal on the weekends as a hobby.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.