There’s a new happy hour spot in Solon, right in its industrial office warehouse space on Bainbridge Road.
In the 2,000-square-foot space, the North Coast Wine Club opened its doors to the public earlier this month. In existence since 2011, the club is comprised of about 100 members representing all walks of life.
“We wanted to be able to make it more of a social atmosphere,” said club operator Tom Radu, 66, of South Russell, explaining the concept.
As a result, club members took to transforming the industrial space, building the bar by hand and creating the wine barrel room, as well as decorating the space, complete with soft lighting, wine decor and high top tables and chairs.
They welcome visitors each Thursday from 4:30-8 p.m. at 30700 Bainbridge Road. Last week, people flowed in the room one by one to enjoy wines from the club’s vast collection.
“I enjoy this camaraderie and getting together like this,” Solon resident Dennis Tidmore, a club member who took part in last Thursday’s gathering, said. “I’m not just here to drink the wine, but to learn the whole process.”
“We really wanted to build and expand the community,” Mr. Radu explained of why the club obtained a license to become a bonded winery. “We wanted to open up what we are doing as a club to the citizenry of the Chagrin Valley.
“We have created a community of like-minded people who enjoy wine, have fun making it and enjoy socializing.”
Those who take part in the weekly gathering can enjoy wines from world-class grapes made locally, Mr. Radu explained. The North Coast Wine Club sources its grapes from all over the world, including California, Washington, Oregon and even Ohio’s Grand River Valley.
Co-operator Dave Sabo, 62, a resident of Solon, explained that the club also offers in its new space educational workshops, private tastings, corporate events and more. The weekly gatherings have drawn anywhere from 10 to 30 attendees since opening. Guests have the option of purchasing wine by the glass or bottle. Complimentary light snacks are offered because the club does not have a food license.
There also are blind tastings regularly of varietals like rosé, sangiovese, pinot noir, chardonnay and cabarnet sauvignon among other wines made by the club.
Mr. Radu and Mr. Sabo have been making wines many years before the club started, with friends joining in each year. North Coast Wine Club members are involved in the process of wine making, from choosing the grapes to bottling and everything in between.
“We are dedicated to making only the most exceptional wines from the best sources of grapes,” Mr. Radu said. “The biggest reason we got our wine license is to become visible to the community.”
Mr. Radu and Mr. Sabo noted that the wines are affordable because they are not going through distribution.
“We are doing it ourselves and sourcing the grapes ourselves,” Mr. Radu said.
Through the years, club members have won numerous awards through the Wine Makers International Amateur Wine Competition.
In addition to winning awards, club members are building friendships.
“By building this community, a lot of long-lasting friendships have been created that go beyond these four walls,” Mr. Radu said.
Last summer, the group traveled to Niagara on the Lake in Canada for a weekend of wine tasting. They also hold regular gatherings.
The Thursday gatherings are an extension of that camaraderie.
“We wanted to make it more of a social atmosphere,” Mr. Radu said.
Both lifelong winemakers, Mr. Radu and Mr. Sabo said they hope to continue to broaden their audience.
“It’s all about the art of wine making,” Mr. Sabo said.
“And doing it with friends,” Mr. Tidmore added.