Reporting, writing and photos by Emily Anderson
The shop at 915 Home Avenue has been a fixture in the Akron community since 1992, when John M. Pastor bought the Wines Incorporated he worked at and renamed it Grape and Granary. After almost 30 years as a trusted supplier of everything necessary to make your own beer and wine, it’s no surprise to hear the shop has been busy since Ohio’s stay-at-home order started back in March.
Grape and Granary today is much more than a brew supply shop. They carry a wide variety of green coffee beans for roasting, kombucha and cheesemaking kits, and distilling tools for homemade sanitizer and essential oils. They have a winery on-premise, complete with a bottle shop and tasting room for their uniquely flavored wines and spirits.
Wait, spirits too? Yes, they also have a fully operational distillery tucked away in the back of the building called Renaissance Artisan Distillery. Operated by John M. Pastor, Jim Pastor Jr., and Ron Pertosky, RAD makes small batches of light and dark rum, whiskey, and a few gins. (Original Gin is citrus-forward, while Route 8 Gin has more spice.) They also produce a line of classic Italian spirits including limoncello, grappa, coffee liquor, and nocino.
In the coming new year, Renaissance Artisan Distillery is releasing a few new batches of whiskey that have been aging for a few years. One is a scotch-style whiskey and the other is a bourbon made with organic blue corn.
All of RAD’s spirits are available for sale in the bottle shop at Grape and Granary, along with all of their different bottled wines. The tasting room is still open for service with social distancing measures in place.
“We always sell a lot of wine for the holidays,” says John, and this year has been no different.
The biggest effect COVID-19 restrictions have had on Grape and Granary is that they’ve had to suspend their classes on brewing and winemaking. Besides that, John says, “Everyone has been doing well here. My parents have been quarantining, but my son and I and other employees are all well and working every day.”
Thanks to their YouTube channel, TheGrape99, you can learn how to brew from home without attending an in-person class. They offer curbside pickup for their entire inventory, so you don’t have to enter the store if you don’t want to. John recommends that newbies check out the beginner classes online, and reach out to him if they have any questions.
As you can probably imagine, John is a busy guy. He spends his days managing the business and doing paperwork, but he’s still as passionate about the brewing community as he was 30 years ago. He says the most rewarding aspect of his job is coaching and teaching people.
“It is a great feeling when I can help or teach someone the process of making wine, beer, spirits, and they come in and tell me how happy they are with the results, and how amazed their friends are. There is a comradery among brewers which I find very enjoyable,” he says.
If you want your own wine but you’re not quite ready to tackle the process yourself, you can order a batch to be brewed just for you at Grape and Granary winery-on-premise. They’ll make your specific recipe, bottle it and supply custom labels for you.
Grape and Granary has a little something for everyone. You can be an expert in the field or a complete nube, you’ll find what you’re looking for in here. Home fermentation is not hard — anyone can do it! So, stop by to pick up a new hobby, check out the wine selection, or just to say hi to their resident cat, Sam.
Emily Anderson is definitely going to be making mozzarella cheese in her kitchen soon.