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Raising a glass: Wine, beer festivals on tap this weekend

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The wine and craft beer industries have been enjoying unprecedented growth in Ohio in recent years.

There are now 265 wineries in Ohio, compared to 175 in 2012, according to the Ohio Grape Industries Committee. The Ohio Craft Brewers Association reports there were 254 breweries in Ohio as of September. That number compares to just 92 in 2014.

“The craft beer industry is still picking up, which is exciting and surprising,” said Paul Traver, who is the co-chairman of Friday’s Glass City Beer Festival at the Lucas County Rec Center in Maumee. “The industry started to explode about four years ago, and people were expecting it to die down a little, but that hasn’t happened. All of our local brewers are seeing steady growth.”

If You Go

Glass City Beer Festival

When: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday

Where: Lucas County Rec Center, 2901 Key St., Maumee

Cost: VIP tickets are $50 in advance, $55 at the door. General admission $30 in advance, $35 at the door

Information: glasscitybeerfest.com

The Glass City Beer Festival is in its 12th year. This year’s event, which starts at 6 p.m. for those with VIP tickets and 7 p.m. for general admission ticket-holders, will include 48 breweries and 210 beers. A VIP ticket also includes catering from Granite City Food & Brewery.

Most of the local breweries will participate. Maumee Bay Brewing Co. will bring several beers, including 2016 and 2017 barrel-aged versions of its Total Eclipse stout.

But for those Bud Light and Miller drinkers looking to sample craft beers for the first time, there will be a wide variety of other styles available.

“A lot of people have the impression of craft beer as dark and strong or bitter and hoppy, but there are subtle styles out there,” Traver said. “A blonde ale is a great way to get introduced to craft beer. It is not overpowering and doesn’t have that bitterness. Hefeweizen is really approachable. So start with the blonde, then hefeweizen, then some of the amber ales.”

There will also be several choices for wine drinkers who attend this year’s seventh annual Glass City Wine Festival, which will be broken into afternoon and night sessions at the SeaGate Convention Centre on Saturday. 

“The big difference between a craft beer festival and a wine festival is that people will walk around sipping samples at the beer festival. But at the wine festival, the idea is to sell wine bottles to go,” said Laura Rufenacht, owner of Majestic Oak Winery in Grand Rapids, Ohio. Majestic Oak will be one of 21 wineries on site this year, compared to 16 last year.

“The event is growing because people have heard about it and want to be involved,” said Mariya Moore, a spokesman for Erie Promotions. “This is our seventh year. Downtown Toledo has been undergoing a big revitalization. We really wanted to host something that would bring people downtown.” 

If You Go

Glass City Wine Festival

When: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: SeaGate Convention Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave.

Cost: VIP tickets are sold out. General admission tickets are $25

Information: glasscitywinefestival.com

VIP tickets are sold out for the wine festival, but general admission tickets are still available. Those tickets include a wine tasting glass and tote and 1-ounce samples.

Moore added that there will be multiple food vendors, including Deet’s BBQ and Beth’s Gourmet Kitchen, and other vendors at the event. “It is not only a wine event, but you can shop until you drop,” Moore said.

Rufenacht will bring at least five types of wine, including a dry red, dry white, and sweet wine, which she said is a favorite of younger Millennials, who are becoming a larger percentage of the wine consumer demographic.

“There is a lot more of the fruit stuff coming out in the industry, people experimenting with different blends. There is a lot of creativity going on. Eight out of 10 wines are probably sweet,” Rufenacht said.

The event serves multiple purposes for Majestic Oaks, which opened its tasting room in 2013.

“This is a huge day for us to sell bottles, but also a chance to meet our customers and those in the community who may not know about us,” Rufenacht said. “We are less than 30 minutes from downtown Toledo, so we are always looking to find our next customer.”

The Glass City Beer Festival will be Friday at the Lucas County Rec Center from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. VIP tickets are $50 in advance at glasscitybeerfest.com or on the festival’s Facebook page. They are $55 at the door. VIP tickets include dinner, 18 3-ounce pours, and entry at 6 p.m. A general admission ticket is $30 in advance and $35 at the door and includes 12 samples.

The Glass City Wine Festival will be Saturday at the SeaGate Convention Centre. There are two sessions: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. VIP ticket-holders will be granted entry at noon and 5 p.m. VIP tickets are sold out. General admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased at glasscitywinefestival.com

Contact Brian Dugger at bdugger@theblade.com or on Twitter @DuggerBlade.

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