Winemaker scouting new locations in Hamilton to expand home operation

Credit: AngiePhotos

Credit: AngiePhotos

Lawrence Eakins had hoped to create what he calls an artisan urban winery, Eakins Wines, at 1019 Dayton St. in Hamilton.

But after hearing concerns last week from neighbors of the property concerned about traffic, smells of wine-making and other issues, he plans to work with Hamilton city staff to find another location, he said.

Eakins has made wine at home about five years, including pinos and cabernets, “but I also make sweet wines, too,” said the resident of Springfield Twp. in northern Hamilton County.

“All my friends and family like my wine, and they always want to buy wine from me,” he said. “I keep telling them, ‘Well, I’m not allowed to sell it. I can give it to you. I can’t sell it.’ So I just thought about trying to open a small winery somewhere.”

He planned to move in to the property, which is for sale, and live in the house, turning a warehouse behind it into the winery. Eakins buys grapes from elsewhere, and plans to create sweet wines, “because there’s kind of a void, and not a whole lot of wineries make sweet wines,” he said, while also making some dry ones.

“The neighbors on the street came to the city meeting and pretty much shot it down,” he said. “It’s not going to happen now.”

The property, within the Dayton Lane Historic District, would have required a zoning change in the residentially zoned property to allow the winery and a tasting room. Eakins hoped to produce about 1,000 cases per year.

“The city said they were going to work with me, to try to find another location,” Eakins said.

“There’s not a Black businesses in Hamilton, so I thought it would be kind of cool to have a Black-owned winery in the city,” he said. “I think the city is excited about it. I think they really want a winery there, but it’s just finding a location.”

Hamilton has seen noticeable growth of interesting alcohol-making and selling-establishments, including craft breweries and bars in its downtown and Main Street areas, particularly as area businesses plan to provide food and entertainment options for the 10,000-plus visitors expected to visit the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex that should be completed around the end of the year.

In recent years, Municipal Brew Works and Fretboard Public House have been brewing craft beers after an absence of breweries for eight decades in the city. Another microbrewery, Amp House, plans to move in to a former city electrical substation on Maple Avenue.

Also, the burger restaurant and craft-beer bar, with a bourbon bar, is scheduled to open Friday, with HUB on Main, another family-friendly bar that will be serviced by food trucks, scheduled to open Labor Day weekend.

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