Now, nearly four years later, the idea is beginning to take fruition with Pairings – a proposed 38,000 square-foot center that will serve as a gastronomic destination and educational culinary experience.
Groundbreaking for this non-profit facility is tentatively scheduled for late 2013, with the facility planned to open sometime in 2014. Preliminary plans include a restaurant and banquet facility, gift shop, office space, a teaching auditorium and hands-on kitchen.
“It’s extremely exciting, and it’s a great way for people to learn more about Ohio’s agriculture and wines,” said Jennifer A. Brown, Geneva city manager.
Brown said Pairings will complement Geneva’s tourism business and enhance the community’s asset-based commerce, spotlighting the area’s agriculture. The Geneva area is home to more than 20 different wineries and comprises 68 percent of Ohio’s nearly 2,000 grape-bearing acres.
Construction will be funded by federal and state grants, philanthropic donations from corporations and foundations, public donations and money raised through special events. The general public can donate by becoming a “friend” or a member of the “Pairings’ Founders Club” by visiting the Pairings website at www.pairingsohio.com.
In February 2012, Pairings hosted the “Dare to Pair Culinary Challenge” – its first fundraiser – at Spire Institute’s Fuel Restaurant in Geneva. The fundraiser helped raise more than $20,000 and created awareness about Pairings and its mission, Brown said.
Another way Pairings will help further the growth of the wine industry is by offering a variety of winemaking classes and offering incubator facilities for start-up wineries, Brown said.
Plans also call for classrooms for Kent State University’s viticulture and enology degree programs, a wine bottle sales area and transportation services to regional wineries.
Pairings is anticipated to attract more than 50,000 visitors annually.