April 18th, 2018, Winter Park, FL – Sandy Ridge Vineyards and Mercantile, a new Norwalk, Ohio based concept from chef/creator Jamie McFadden, announced plans this month to open mid-2018. With a focus on supporting local business and vendors in the area, the team plans to make the location a destination for visitors seeking an authentic, Ohio experience.
HISTORY OF SANDY RIDGE
Located off State Road 61 East in Norwalk, Ohio, the Sandy Ridge farm’s agricultural heritage dates back to the early 1950’s, where it served the Huron County area as a resource for fresh local fruits and vegetables. Supplying strawberries, apples, cider and Christmas trees for three decades, approximately 70 acres of the property were originally devoted to apple trees and other orchard varietals. The farm closed, and eventually the orchards were replaced with farm land, and property was later abandoned.
A FRESH CONCEPT
With a fresh breath of life, and a newly envisioned concept, Sandy Ridge Vineyards and Mercantile plans to open its doors mid 2018 with a focus on community.
The location plans to operate as a neighborhood gathering space, highlighting the farm’s history as an agricultural hub, however this time, with the spotlight on viticulture and wine. The design and layout of the property will feature guest areas inside and out, allowing visitors and locals to socialize and interact either in the Mercantile, around a large fire pit, a grill area, in the boardroom, or sitting and relaxing inside the historic barn at gathering tables and lounge areas.
Community events will include seasonal farmers markets, concerts, antique car shows, wine and food events, and maker workshops. The property will be available to lease for special events including weddings, graduations, and other milestone and life events.
INSPIRED BY FAMILY AND LOCAL MEMORIES
We asked Chef McFadden to share his thoughts about what Sandy Ridge means to him, and as a local destination. Said McFadden, “For so many adults in the area, the mention of Sandy Ridge Farm immediately stirs fond memories of apple orchards , fresh pressed cider, Christmas trees, and a sense of community. Unfortunately, as time passed, the next generation did not get the same opportunity we did, and missed the experienced that so many had at the farm. In restoring Sandy Ridge Vineyards and Mercantile, we hope to create a destination where fun times and memories can be shared by the next generation.”
Family history is a central part of Chef McFadden’s ties to the area, and the driving force behind the restoration project. He continued, “My dad’s brothers bought the farm a few years ago, and asked me if I would have an interest in doing something with the property. After a lot of conversations, and much deliberation, I realized I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Sandy Ridge is such a big part of our history, and this project is a gift. Because of this, it is my intention to utilize my experiences and skills to recreate something really special at the farm that others can benefit from.”
When asked about the new focus on viticulture, Chef McFadden stated, “The majority of the apple orchards were removed years ago, however, the land is amazingly fertile. Ohio as a wine destination is continuing to garner well deserved attention, and we felt the location was an ideal fit for local vineyard expansion efforts. I’ve had great success with Snowbirds Vintners, and it just feels right to extend that passion here locally in Ohio.”
A COMMUNITY DESTINATION
Chef McFadden said it is his hope that locals will embrace the Sandy Ridge concept, and view it as more than simply a food, drink, and shopping destination, but a true community gathering place.
The project hopes to draw new visitors to the area, as increased interest in lesser known wine appellations has created growth in tourism and travel across the United States. Sandy Ridge hopes to draw visitors from all over North Central Ohio, as well as national and international travelers, seeking an authentic, Ohio experience.
As the project continues to ramp up, Ohio natives are encouraged to spread the word, and share the news with friends and family. Updates on Sandy Ridge will be announced as restoration and construction continue. Follow their progress online at Facebook.com/SandyRidgeVineyards. Vendors, artists, and event planner inquiries are welcome.
Sandy Ridge Vineyards & Mercantile is located at 180 State Route 61 East Norwalk, Ohio 44857.