By Jason Jugenheimer & The Flight Crew
HUBBARD, Ohio – While the Flight Crew traditionally focuses on beer, we enjoy meeting people who pour their heart and soul into any craft industry, people who display the passion that drives them.
Passion is a word one uses to describe how brewers feel about beer, winemakers feel about wine, and a mead maker – well, feels about mead.
Nate Wilson has that passion for all three. Oh, and for cider and seltzers, too. Plus, there’s his passion for developing and encouraging the growth of his and other businesses in the community.
Nate, like a lot of those who open craft breweries or wineries or other craft businesses, began with a hobby. He made wine with his buddy on weekends in someone’s garage. Then, he made an unusual jump – not to beer, but to mead.
Since he is a former science teacher, the chemistry behind it excited him. But in talking to Nate, you
can tell that he enjoys the history behind it all as well.
Mead (fermented honey water) is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. Like many things, its origin is debated. Historians agree, however, that mead is thousands of years old, possibly dating to 20,000 years ago.
Nate is a purist and believes in obtaining honey for his mead from places he trusts, like his supplier in Auburn, Ohio. He believes in patience.
“If you filter mead, you’re just rushing the process,” he says. “It takes time to do it right.”
Nate and his wife, Dani, have seen Woodland Cellars grow by using that philosophy and are expanding operations at The Manor on Logan Avenue in Liberty Township.
They bought and have been renovating the old Diocese of Youngstown retreat and are creating a wonderful space that is already hosting 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 attracting more local business as well, becoming a destination spot, which will include a coffee shop and high-end cigar lounge. Combine all of this with an expanding outdoor area for entertainment and leisure as the weather becomes warmer, and Woodland Cellars becomes quite the destination spot as well.
Oh, and the food is phenomenal, provided by Frank and Mary Ann Cimmento. It features 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 is some of what we enjoyed on our visit.
Kolsch (5.7% ABV)
Brian Long: Using the noble hops Saaz and Tettnang, Woodland Cellars produces a crisp and clean Kolsch. I often use a Kolsch to guide my beer drinking buds into the craft world and as an excellent marker to tell the quality of a brewery. This Kolsch is a great beer to pair with just about any meal, including the burgers at Woodland Cellars. It is light, with fruity characteristics and a subtle hoppiness that allow you to savor the beer and the food.
Pear Cider (7.0% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo: Sometimes the Flight Crew gets lost in all the beer reviews we write. On this visit I noticed Wilson had quite the variety to choose from: ciders, wines, beer and meads. I chose pear cider… I guess that is why they call me “Cider Boy.”
One thing I noticed: It wasn’t over-the-top sweet like a lot of ciders. This one was a little dry. The smell was something else though. I stuffed my nose in the glass a couple of times to enjoy the aroma. It smelled like standing in an orchard picking fresh pears. It definitely is the one to try the next time you’re in Hubbard
Porter (5.6% ABV)
Dave Shively: On a night when we were treated to fine wines, artisan meads, ciders, seltzers and beer, I was drawn to the simplicity and authenticity of the Woodland Cellars porter. This top fermented ale was light bodied, with a nice balance of malty sweetness and bitter hoppiness, with notes of coffee and chocolate.
It paired beautifully with the Cafe Cimmento mushroom cheeseburger, which was simply outstanding. It’s always a great night when you are 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’ll be candid. I was never much of a mead fan, although I haven’t had a lot of mead experience. Those I’ve tried have been incredibly sweet, which isn’t what I’m into. Nate has opened my palate.
Jormungandr is one of the most complex things I’ve had to date. Very floral on the nose with hints of spice, this mead finishes semi-dry and semi-sweet with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. I got more honey at the finish than the original Eye of Odin, which is also a fantastic mead. This experience will definitely have me checking out more meads.
Roger Gillespie: You will be hard-pressed to find another local winery that offers its own winery produced Malbec. That might be because it’s a little too cost-prohibitive since the juice comes from grapes harvested in Argentina. Nate took a risk and produced an excellent offering.
This wine offers an array of flavors covered with a touch of smokiness. It is a little bit dry but has hints of plum and blackberry that enhance the full bodied mouth feel.
Recommended Flight Pattern: Kick back for an evening of drink and enjoyment at Woodland Cellars.
Pictured: Nate Wilson found his passion when he began to make wine with a buddy on weekends as a hobby.