About a half-decade after opening a winery in downtown Powell, Gina and Jeff Kirby have made a splash in the county seat.
The Concord Township couple, who founded Powell Village Winery in late 2011, opened the Oak & Brazen Wine Co. late last month in downtown Delaware. The business operates in a renovated storefront adjacent to the Strand Theatre on East Winter Street.
Jeff Kirby, who also owns a wine-production facility north of Shawnee Hills, sold the tasting-room portion of Powell Village Winery in late 2016 ahead of starting a family.
He said it wasn't long before he "got the bug" to create another wine-related business.
"I just wanted to do something bigger and grander," he said. "I've always had my eye on Delaware as kind of an up-and-coming area, especially in the last five years."
Kirby found the perfect space for a new tasting room, with square footage to spare for events and some production equipment, at 38 E. Winter St. While he was thrilled with the location, Kirby said the building had not had a tenant for about a decade, leaving it "really dilapidated."
"The floor looked like it had been jackhammered. The ceiling (was) falling down," he said. "It was just a total mess."
Delaware City Council last June gave Kirby Ventures LLC a 15-year, 100 percent property-tax abatement on improvements to the building.
Before council voted to approve the incentive, Delaware Economic Development Director Sean Hughes said the structure was "in considerable need of help and love."
Kirby, a graduate of Ohio State University's Knowlton School of Architecture, said the obvious problems with the building could not scare him away.
"When I walked in, I had a vision. I wanted that ... classy but cool warehousey feel," he said. "It had some cool architectural features and I felt like I could pull it off."
Kirby said the result of the renovation project is a business with about quadruple the space of Powell Village Winery.
Although Oak & Brazen has been open for just a few weeks, Kirby said the reaction has been overwhelming.
"Everybody loves the feel of (the building) and, most importantly, the wine's getting rave reviews," he said.
All of the wine served at the winery is produced in Delaware County, using grapes and juice sourced mainly from California and Washington. Kirby said some of wine production for Oak & Brazen will take place on-site, "after we get our legs under us."
Kirby said Oak & Brazen does not specialize in one particular type of wine, but instead provides a wide variety.
"Our goal is to have a wine for every taste that walks through the door," he said.
The business offers small plates of food but does not feature a full kitchen.
While the Powell and Delaware businesses will share a few of the same wines, Kirby said customers can find unique products at each. Kirby said many prior customers from Powell already have ventured north to visit his new venture.
"We've seen a lot of familiar faces," he said.
While the renovation on the first floor is finished, Kirby said the building's 4,500-square-foot second floor still needs about a year's worth of work. He said the second floor likely will be rented out as office or event space.