Until recently, I never gave much thought to a winery either. Wine is wine right? You can get it pretty much anywhere, right? If it’s &7.99 at the grocery store and I see it on the way to the self-checkout that’s as good as any, right? I might be wrong.
Tonight I visited Camelot Cellars , an Urban Boutique Winery in an upscale, trendy neighborhood not far from downtown Columbus. Under new ownership by Janine Aquino, Camelot has been radically transformed back to the essence of an authentic winery – and it is a really unique place to visit. The interior reflects a vintage modern feel with Tuscan & French accents and expresses the Camelot’s foundation that ‘wine is art ‘. This expression is reflected by way of showcasing local artists throughout and using local craftsman for elements such as custom made reclaimed wood tables using Ohio lumber, the newly expanded wood wine bar and the impressive triple framing of the Wine Wall. The wine wall, and accompanying Tuscan table, is by far my favorite part too.
The warm décor, paired with friendly staff, is part of what makes you feel welcome the moment you walk into the door at Camelot – even if you are like me and have never set foot in a winery before (and might, in fact feel slight intimidated). When people ask me what kind of wine I want, I typically don’t know what to say – I like red and white wines, but don’t know the names of them. I don’t really know what foods truly go with what wines so I rely heavily on menus and websites to tell me what to order when.
So, naturally, when Janine asked me on my visit to Camelot what kind of wine I wanted, I got a blank stare on my face, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Something for fall?” Brilliant, Sara. Janine asked if I wanted red and I said yes, something with spice to it – hoping in the back of my mind the wine didn’t have some sort of weird aftertaste or harsh bitterness with it like some do.
Janine brought me – Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel (or what I call Freakin’ Fantastic), made from juice right from Lodi, California to ensure a quality wine is made.HERE . This wine is smooth, warm and leaves absolutely no aftertaste. It’s not bitter at all. I find it delightfully spicy and I can feel it’s warmth the moment I take a sip.
Janine is well-known for her gift of being able to help others get exactly the wine they are searching for. She grew up on a vineyard, worked at several Hudson Valley wineries excelling in bringing local wines into local restaurants, studied food and wine pairings at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and did all her college work on wines, wine making and the workings of a boutique winery. She has made wine from grapes, raspberries and strawberries.
At Camelot you can also visit the wine bar, handcraft and bottle your own wine, partake in wine tastings, order a cheese, fruit or meat plate to go with your wine or join in on one of the local special events, like the Freaky Fur Day Wine testing. Bring your pup and for $5 sample three of Camelot Cellars’ award winning, locally crafted wines in the company of other dog-lovers. Three Dog Bakery, also a local shop, has their locally baked dog treats on hand along with puppy beverages. I’m so coming back with the girls for this.
The wine bar is nice because it is quiet – but not restrained – and you can hear yourself think. With WiFi, it is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while getting caught up on some work, chat with some friends, a quiet date before or after dinner or just relax after work. It is classy, but not too formal and everywhere you look are groups of friends laughing, chatting and learning about Camelots selection of wines. And, I had several conversations with perfect strangers, which was refreshing.
What about you? Do you have a favorite wine? Do you run for wine? Have you ever visited a winery and what did you think of it?
Camelot Cellars mentioned.