by Kelly Mullen

Over the past few years, Akron has earned the reputation as a craft beer city. Adding fuel to this fire, it seems like every month, there’s a new, local brewery opening in the area. Weekends are often spent at breweries rather than bars. Industrial spaces are being snatched up by home brewers with a dream.

As the popularity of local, craft beer steadily rises, is there room for a wine scene in the Rubber City?

“The rise of breweries has certainly grown the beer community, but the wine community is still big in Akron,” says Bill Krauss, Beer & Wine Category Manager at Mustard Seed Market. “They haven’t given way to beer.”

Wine sales at the Mustard Seed Market still outpace beer sales, Bill says. Their monthly wine tastings are nearly always sold out in advance of the event. 

“These events are a great way to try something new,” says Bill. “There’s always a possibility you’ll find your new favorite wine.”

Wine tasting events in Akron often draw a diverse crowd. The novice Millennial wine drinker can often be found tasting next to an experienced Baby Boomer.

“When it comes to wine, the masses and classes all come together,” says Lauren Carpeta, owner of Akron wine shop 750ml. “That’s the whole point of wine, to bring people together.”

While Millennials may have had fewer years drinking wine, they certainly aren’t dismissed by local wine shops. “Millennials are much more experimental with wine. They are apt to research wine and travel to wine regions,” Lauren says.

“Older crowds often stick to what they’ve been drinking for forty years,” Bill adds. “Meanwhile, Millennials are pulling out their phones, scanning labels, researching varietals, and always looking to try something different.”

Throughout the Akron area, old and young wine drinkers are drawn to seasonal trends. Each year as the weather cools, shelves are stocked with Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, Calif. As the snow melts, it’s replaced with Rosé.

“Rosé is the biggest trend in the past ten years,” Bill says. “Years ago, you could find one or two bottles on the shelves.  Now you can find 40 of them.”

These seasonal trends in Akron mimic national trends. Rosé consumption in the U.S. has increased 53% in volume in the last year, resulting in $258 million dollars in sales, according to Nielsen.

“As Spring approaches in Akron, we want to transition from big heavy reds to light whites,” Bill says. “That transition is Rosé.”

Although Akron wine drinkers may aggregate to Rosé-colored glasses this spring, that doesn’t mean they can’t still be found reaching for a hazy IPA.  

In fact, most local wine bars serve beer from local breweries.  

“Wine and craft beer is all about mood,” Lauren says. “We offer both to cater to whatever mood the customer is in.”

According to Bill, “the city is big enough for both a strong beer and wine community. There is no rivalry there.”

Photos by Lauren Carpeta. Used with permission.

Visit 750ml at 2287 W. Market Street in Akron. Learn more about their wine club and events at www.750mlwines.com.

Visit the Mustard Seed Market and Cafe at 867 W. Market Street in Akron and at 3885 W. Market Street in Montrose. Learn more about their events, including wine tastings, at www.mustardseedmarket.com.

Kelly Mullen is a freelance writer for The Devil Strip.  She is an equal opportunity consumer of Akron craft beer and wine.

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