Downtown Warren winery nears completion

CharBenay’s Wine expects to hold soft opening June 14

Tribune Chronicle / Ron Selak Jr. Mark Marvin, president of Downtown Development Group, and Charlene Butcher of Champion, the “Char” in CharBenay’s Wine on the River in downtown Warren, stand inside the barrel room at the winery on West Market Street.

WARREN — It’s a construction site now, but there is no mistaking the interior and the exterior of what used to the SCOPE building in Warren is destined to be an elegant winery.

The walls are Tuscan-themed with exposed brick, and a barrel room — already stocked with wooden casks — and a large half-moon bar in the main dining area are some of the amenities already in place at CharBenay’s Wine on the River. In addition, customers can take a wine making class, keep the wine they made in the barrel room and order it when they come back for a small corking fee.

The main circular window in the gift shop, which will sell bottles of wine and other gifts, will be made to look like the top of a wine barrel, and there are big plans for the exterior and 5,200-square-foot patio area, work on both of which has been hampered recently by poor weather.

“It’s just a little flavor for when you walk in and also something to pull you in when you’re driving down West Market Street,” said Mark Marvin, whose company, Downtown Development Group, is remaking the building of the wine barrel window.

In addition, the exterior in the next day or two will be painted with a whitewash to let the brick show through, “so you have that little cottage feel,” Marvin said.

Weather permitting, the renovation work, Marvin said, should be done by June 1. That gives CharBenay’s owner, Charlene Butcher of Champion, about two weeks before her planned soft opening to prepare and train staff.

Marvin and Butcher Wednesday led members of the Western Reserve Port Authority on a tour of the site, 220 W. Market St., that’s within sight of Courthouse Square and the Warren Community Amphitheatre.

It was the port authority that helped Marvin acquire the property in February 2018 from Warren. The city turned over the property to the port authority, which can, under Ohio law, acquire property and sell them without having to go out to bid.

In addition to regular seating, the outdoor space, which has a 270-degree view of the downtown area, will have eight 54-inch propane-fired fire pit tables and a water fountain. The building also will have space for banquets up of to 150 to 175 people, Marvin said.

Butcher, the “Char” in CharBenay’s, said she is targeting June 14 for a soft opening, depending on the completion of the patio work. A grand opening would be later.

The winery would employ about 10 people, and of course, she said family and friends also would lend a hand. L’uva Bella Winery and Bistro in Lowellville will provide the wine, including some under the private CharBenay’s label created by L’uva Bella’s winemaker, Butcher said.

The winery will have a full bar, including beer, which Butcher said she wants Modern Methods Brewing Company in downtown Warren to provide. She said she hasn’t yet worked out a deal with the brewery.

There will be food, mostly appetizers and paninis to start, but she plans to have a full menu within a year.

Butcher, who manages Modern Home Kitchen and Bath in Warren, said the “Ben” in CharBenay’s is Ben Natali, a man she met about 15 years ago after her husband passed away who made wine. She was also a consultant for Traveling Vineyard and did home wine tastings.

The winery will be open Thursday through Sunday, with hours to be determined later.

Also soon to open around Courthouse Square are West and Main, a restaurant that will occupy the space of the former Lime Tree on West Market Street, and Jacked, a steakhouse on North Park Avenue.