by Diana Barnum
The word Camelot often brings to mind legendary King Arthur, goblets of wine and his Knights of the Round Table, a table that was made by a local craftsman. Fast-forward to present day and Camelot still calls to mind one awesome place. In this authentic place, ‘wine is art’ is the theme and the work of many local artists and craftsmen is showcased. “We do a good job with the fact that we’re urban,” said owner of Camelot Cellars Winery Janine Aquino, fourth generation professional from New York’s Hudson Valley. “And we cater to all tastes and all types of wine.”
Winner of more than 40 awards internationally and nationally including recognition right in their home state, Camelot Cellars Winery is an urban boutique winery on High Street in Columbus, OH — an area known as the Short North Arts District. The Winery features a vintage modern theme with Tuscan and French accents, and has become a backdrop for lots of local cultural flavor and events. It fits right in with the urban revitalization theme the Short North is known for. “We reach out to our customers online with social media, especially Facebook, and through some groups, like being a part of the Capital City Wine Trail tours,” said Aquino. “And through some print ads, too.”
Aquino originally came to Camelot as a consultant. She ended up buying the place when it went up for sale. Producing approximately 5,000 cases of wine a year, Camelot operates with five to six employees at any given time and is growing out of its current location with sales that come from products placed in area locations and stores. In addition to their wines, they sell branded wine glasses, wine chillers, wine openers, gift bags, stoppers, cheese boards, olive oil and other wine-related items. On the premises, they also host a wine bar for local patrons and a large, rectangular Tuscan table that boasts a nice view of Short North activity for all types of events. Both the bar and large table, as well as smaller tables in their Tuscan Room that’s for private events, and their triple framed Wine Wall offering more than 80 varieties of wine, are all locally crafted from Ohio lumber.
DIY Winemaking, Private Label, Adopt a Batch & Other Programs
For people wanting to make their own wine but may be lacking resources and skills, Camelot offers a Handcraft Your Own Wine program. The process includes sampling wines to choose a type to make, then crafting the beverage under staff supervision in the winemaking lab. Processing then takes roughly 6-12 weeks in a back room area. Afterwards the participant returns to bottle, cork / shrink cap and label their product.
Help is available every step of the way, even with customized label making for. Some of the popular occasions for this type of Do It Yourself (DIY) winemaking are office parties, holiday events, weddings and anniversaries. For shoppers interested in a batch or even single bottles, but not in waiting the 6 – 12 weeks for processing, Camelot offers private labels and Adopt a Batch programs. Buyers simply choose a wine. Their wine selections include White Wine, Rose’ Wine, Red Wine, Limited Edition Red Wine, Limited Edition White, Fruit Wine, Ice Wine, Fortified Wine. After choosing a wine, customers then go right to the bottle / cork / shrink cap / label stage. For label making, a staff member can help with the design using a computer right in the winery, or clients can email their designs to the staff, including digital photos, to use.
Calendar of Events
A slew of events are featured on any monthly Camelot Winery calendar online. For instance, they host wine tastings, holiday crafting events and monthly psychic readings with a palmist. Camelot’s Paint and Pour workshops are also popular where people can paint their own wine glasses and take them home. Camelot also hosts popular Pop Up Art Shops featuring local artists who come to showcase their art work. They host Ugly Sweater night, Pet Portraits night, magic nights, comedy nights and Flight Nights, for customers to sample three different types of wines. “Camelot, located nowhere in particular, can be anywhere,” Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy once said. And now Camelot is here.
They are looking to expand next year to work towards a goal of 10,000 cases a year, needing more room for production, events and in a nutshell, their entire operation.
From legend to urban boutique winery – the local artists, craftsman and patrons of Camelot Cellars Winery
by Diana Barnum