(Editor’s note: Today is the first piece in a series exploring Gallia County Wine Country.)
BIDWELL, Ohio — As a new century began in 2000, Tim and Lisa Merry planted their first vineyards. Six years later, the Merry Family Winery opened, with the honor of being the first winery in Gallia County.
Dreams and family traditions intersected to create the idea, and hard work and planning made it a reality. According to the Merry’s, making wine, brandy, and beer has been a family hobby for many generations, and was the inspiration for their business.
The winery offers a variety of wines handcrafted on the premises using grapes from their own vineyards as well as other fruits procured locally. The Old Mill Craft Brewery was added in 2012, and produces lagers, ales, stouts, and pilsner, as well as seasonal offerings.
The brewery reflects their emphasis on family history, heritage, and tradition with their use of heirloom hops and a family recipe. Hops grown on the premises include Saaz hops, brought to the United States in the 1800’s by one of their great grandfathers when he immigrated from Slovakia. A highlight of the brewery is their “old-fashioned home-made root beer soda pop,” based on great grandmother’s recipe.
“Family is important to us, and we do very much enjoy working with each other,” Lisa said. “The venue is a perfect place to entertain family and friends, not only ours, but everyone who enjoys wine and our friendly atmosphere. We enjoy chatting and getting to know our customers on a personal level, and sharing our handcrafted wines, beers, cider, homemade root beer with visitors. We love what we do.”
She said, it is very satisfying to reflect on where they started to where they are now, from the first plantings, to the initial production of a few hundred gallons of wine, to today, with the winery now producing over 22,000 gallons annually.
“When we planted our first vineyards, we were told it would never work, people just could not see our vision,” Lisa said. “With hard work and determination, we made our dream a reality, and at the same time cleared a path for others to follow and realize their dreams of making wine.”
Lisa said a quote from Henry David Thoreau exemplifies their decision to open their winery and brewery: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
“This is exactly what we decided to do,” she said. “We planted our first vineyards, and began planning the winery, then we added the brewery. We are living the life we imagined.”
The Merry Family Winery and The Old Mill Craft Brewery are located at 2376 State Route 850 in Bidwell, Ohio. Find them online at https://merryfamilywinery.com/.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.