A barrel of fun

Randy L. McKee photo

The Winemaker’s Barn is also an ideal location for showers and parties.

Although Breitenbach Wine Cellars began 38 years ago on a modest 70-acre parcel in Dover, the family-owned winery has expanded over the last few decades to include more than 300 acres of vineyards and attractions — and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

“Our grapes are grown on 20 of our verdant acres,” said Anita Davis, manager and daughter of Breitenbach’s founders, Dalton and Cynthia Bixler. “We harvest the grapes ourselves and, along with other grapes brought in from Michigan, New York, California and other parts of Ohio, crush them to create the 40 different wines produced here.”

Last fall, she said, Breitenbach invited the public to help with the harvest. “It was a wildly popular event,” Davis said. “People watched while we crushed the grapes that go into our wine.”

The entire process, from barrel to bottle, takes about three months.

Bottles of Breitenbach wines, sold at more than 500 locations throughout the state, retail for $10-$20. But to immerse yourself in the full wine-making and tasting experience, a visit to the Dover campus is a must.

In addition to participating in the harvest, guests delight in a variety of happenings at Breitenbach throughout the year. As the winery has grown, Davis said, buildings that house unique attractions have been added.

The Tool Shed is Breitenbach’s premier event center. With seating for up to 350 people, it’s an ideal venue in which to hold weddings and other large gatherings. The majestic, wine-themed room is both rustic and regal, with a vaulted ceiling from which chandeliers gently hang and a wide-open floor plan that boasts wine barrels and other winery staples. Set against the backdrop of the vineyard, photo opportunities abound. And, of course, your favorite Breitenbach vintage can be added to any festivity.

Sampling the many wines Breitenbach produces is a highlight of any visit, and the onsite marketplace is the perfect location in which to do just that. “People can taste any time of the day,” Davis said. “We have inside or outside seating.”

Tasting times are Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

After choosing your favorite Breitenbach wines to take home, spend time perusing the generous gift shop filled with wine-related items. And be sure to plan your visit around mid-day mealtime. Breitenbach’s café menu is packed with sensational salads and wood-fired pizzas, starting at just $6. It’s open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Seasonal events at Breitenbach are plentiful, with a summer concert series that takes place in the onsite amphitheater located on a hillside, or snowy sled riding that includes a bonfire with marshmallows and hot wine.

In August, the winery plays host to a five-mile run, and in September a dog show is the highlight. In January and February, the Winemaker’s Barn features live music. “It’s the perfect place to take your lunch and enjoy an atmosphere filled with melodic sound,” Davis said.

The Winemaker’s Barn, she noted, is also an ideal location for showers and parties. With room for up to 70 people, the restored enclave above the wine cellars is a beautiful space in which to entertain your group.

But one of the biggest draws to Breitenbach, Davis noted, is the annual Dandelion May Fest, which will be held on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, 2019. Located in the Roadhouse Amphitheater, the festivities naturally include all things dandelion. In addition to wine sampling, Breitenbach will feature its coveted Dandelion Sangria, offer cellar tours and showcase live entertainment along with arts and crafts.

“Our local Amish pick the dandelions for our wine,” Davis said. “This festival is one of our biggest attractions and people won’t want to miss it. Each year it gets bigger and better.”

Vendors contribute to the themed days as well, with everything from dandelion soap and jelly to bread and sausage available for purchase. This family-friendly event joins a host of exciting happenings at Breitenbach. A complete list can be found on the website, with instant updates and up-to-the-minute information available on the winery’s Facebook page. w

Breitenbach Wine Cellars is located at 5934 Old Rt. 39 NW in Dover. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The phone number is 330-343-3603 and the web address is BreitenbachWine.com.