Guests Can Enjoy an Island Atmosphere at Cove W Winery
DEERFIELD, Ohio – Coming ashore at Cove W winery in Deerfield, you might momentarily believe you landed on a tropical island.
The sandy beach with low-slung chairs, fire pit and open-air bar with corrugated metal walls give it a Margaritaville vibe.
Nestled on a secluded corner of Berlin Lake, Cove W was created by owners Dave Wilson and Cary Wecht. They opened the beachy getaway last year.
This year, they’ve improved upon it, adding more food options, permanent bathrooms, a waterfront deck dining area and craft beer.
Wilson and Wecht make the wine and brew the beer in a production building on the site, with the help of a small staff.
Because Cove W is only open four months a year (June through September), it didn’t make sense to build a permanent brick-and-mortar kitchen. Instead, the owners obtained a mobile food license and prepare items in a fully enclosed tent next to the bar.
On the menu are simple but flavorful items such as hamburgers, flatbread pizzas, tacos and cheese plates. Daily specials such as sausage and pepper sandwiches are rotated in.
“One idea for this summer will be a steak night,” Wilson says. “[Guests] can order a steak and enjoy it on our new deck on the waterfront.”
The new deck area has seating for 50.
Another major improvement is the addition of permanent and fully finished bathrooms. They replace the rented portable potties of the inaugural season.
The beer-making license is also new this year, and Cove W is already offering one of its brews on tap – a blond ale.
The owners trucked in 150 tons of soft sand, surrounding the bar and the waterfront. There is also an outdoor stage with live music every weekend.
While Cove W does not have a dock, many customers arrive in their watercraft.
“We have a lot of boat traffic, and they love it,” Wilson says.
The co-owners cleared stone and concrete debris from the waterfront, making it safe for boats.
“It’s a nice, soft place for boats to pull up,” Wecht says. “We don’t have a dock, but they beach here and tie up to a tree. It works out well.”
It’s a welcoming port for those seeking a change of attitude, if not latitude, but the waterfront landing is just one element in Cove W’s overarching theme.
Creating an island ambiance – hidden from the hustle and bustle of daily life – was the goal.
“It’s a product of our own personal style,” Wecht says. “We wanted to achieve a relaxed and inviting feel, not stuffy. A place where you can come in your bare feet and be comfortable.”
Their efforts were spot on.
“Several of our customers this year and last year have said, ‘I feel like I’m in Florida, at the beach,’” Wecht says. “The other day, someone said, ‘I sent a friend a photo of myself taken here and [the person who received it] asked if I was in Florida.’ So, mission accomplished with the vibe here.”
When the sun goes down, Cove W – which is also dog-friendly – gets even more into the groove.
“We usually have a fire going as soon as it gets dark, and it’s fun,” Wecht says. “One of the best compliments we’ve gotten came from a person last year who said, ‘I’ve lived on this lake for 30 years and I’ve met more people from this area at your place than I did in all the time I’ve lived here.”
The casual theme extends to the wines, which are fruity, untraditional and definitely in the spirit of Cove W.
“We gave them playful names,” Wecht says.
For example, there is Cove Potion, a raspberry-watermelon Cabernet; Berry Dry, a dry elderberry wine; and Mango Mayhem and Strawberry Sunshine, which blend in those fruit flavors.
The winery also offers wine slushies and sangrias, which, Wecht says, “are extremely popular in the hot, beachy weather.”
All of the bottled wines can be purchased to go.
“Last year we sold about 1,800 bottles,” Wilson says. “This year, we ramped up production and estimate selling around 5,500 bottles.”
Cove W is the first winery Wilson and Wecht have opened, and they had a sharp learning curve.
They bought the land in 2020 and put their travel trailer there as a getaway spot. “We had been keeping it at a campground near Columbus but we always wanted our own property,” Wilson says.
After they were there for a while, they realized it would make the perfect spot for a winery and also fill a niche: There are no other wineries on Berlin Lake.
“Cary got the idea to open it and we sent fullspeed ahead,” Wilson says. “We bought equipment and learned how to make wine. We had never made a drop before we decided to open.”
The owners planted a small vineyard last year.
“It won’t produce much,” Wilson says. “It’s more for aesthetics.”
For winemaking, they purchase juice sourced from California and Chile.
Wilson is a veteran of the commercial insurance industry. He sold his company, Transportation Risk Managers, to an Akron company in 2020. He still works in the field, specializing in trucking industry insurance, and maintains an office in downtown Youngstown.
Wecht is a professor of communications at Youngstown State University, a position she has held for 20 years.
Cove W Winery is at 820 state Route 14, about a mile south of the Deerfield traffic circle.
It is open Thursday from 6-9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.
Pictured at top: Berlin Lake forms the backdrop as Cary Wecht and Dave Wilson, owners and operators of Cove W Winery, pose for a photo.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.