ST. MARYS — Some of the best brews can be found in the most quaint, unexpected places — and in our backyard.
Grand Lake St. Marys has always been one of the area’s draws both for tourists and locals, and the Greater Grand Lake Visitors Region has given the area yet another reason to mark it a must-have map dot with the Brews-N-Vines Trail.
When selecting the trail’s stops, Visitors Region Executive Director Donna Grube and her team wanted to highlight local locations you won’t find anywhere else.
“We have a couple of people who own places that are national chains, but for us, when you go into those places, they’re corporate. They’re all alike,” Grube explained. “What we were looking for were things you wouldn’t see repeated in terms of the atmosphere, what’s produced and the vision of the people who own it.”
The group partnered with Bandwango, a Salt Lake City-based company specialized in “destination experience marketing” to create a mobile device dashboard to view all locations, redeem offers and check in. Checking in at 10 of the 14 locations earns participants a Brews-N-Vines Trail T-shirt. To download a pass, visit explore.seemore.org.
Locations like Moeller Brew Barn, Lake Rate Brewing and Five Vines Winery have quickly become popular spots with locals, but some of the smaller stops are garnering the most attention.
“When people go, a lot of them are probably already customers, but we also have folks who tell us they never would’ve gone there or didn’t know that place existed,” she explained. “We’ll have people that will be from Wapakoneta and say they didn’t realize the little coffee shop in Coldwater was there or someone from Mercer County that will say they didn’t know Five Vines was there. Someone said the one in Rockford, Second Crossing, they never would have made that trip, but said it’s such a cool place they’ll be going back. It delighted me — that’s exactly what I was hoping would happen. The goal is once the locals have accepted and word gets around, more folks from out of the area.”
The trail was originally intended to just include breweries and wineries, but the team quickly realized there was an opportunity to show some other local business owners some love as well.
“We looked at our list and said you know some people who are smaller areas are also adding local coffee places – not major places like Starbucks, but local places,” Grube said. “It’s the same customer, those folks who like the unique craft beers or local wines, they enjoy those locally created, interesting coffee places in an atmosphere that’s different.”
The trail rolled out in January, so Grube said the region has already seen an impact and expects even more so through the summer. The plan is to make it a year-round, ongoing event.
“The original goal is to run it for about three years with each year earning a different prize,” she said. “This way folks can start all over again and visit all 14 if they wish.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.