Revel OTR offers an unpretentious and enjoyable wine-drinking experienceJessica Baltzersen Revel; a verb, defined “to take great pleasure or delight in; riotous merry making.” Those who travel to Over-the-Rhine quickly realize the word “revel” and “wine” are synonymous, particularly at the three-year-old Revel OTR, a place to kick back with friends and sip specialty wine out of juice glasses.
The owners, Anthony Maieron, Jodi Maieron, John Coleman (JC) and Amy Coleman, took the word, revel, and made it not only the name of their urban winery, but channeled the definition into the epitome of what the establishment stands for. Much like the black sheep eminent on the bar’s brick wall, they’re deviating from the norm and leaving wine snobbery at the door.
If Revel OTR has proven anything, it’s that not all great wine comes from the majestic rolling hills of Napa Valley and that Cincinnati isn’t just for brewing beer. Combine the right conditions with the right knowledge and the best wine can be made beneath city streets.
Many patrons are unaware that located just below their feet within the 1885 historic building are about 4,600 gallons of wine. From grape to bottle, the entire wine making process occurs onsite in their basement winery.
For Anthony, though, making wine in his basement is nothing new. Born of Italian immigrant parents, his father taught him how to make wine out of their garage at the age of 6. Later Anthony started making wine with JC in his own home basement and later moved the exploding hobby into the official Revel location on 12th Street.
While they took the pretentiousness out of wine culture it doesn’t mean they’re not serious about making it. With each batch of wine, they aim to make the most unadulterated, pure product out there. “Our approach starts with sourcing the best fruit we can get so we don’t have to adjust the chemistry of the wine,” says Anthony. “Our philosophy is great grapes from great growers equals great wine. We also don’t rush our vintages by using additives and 100% of all of our reds are aged in oak.”
Their grapes are sourced from popular wine regions, like California, Washington and Chile and are delivered right to the establishment’s vibrant, graffiti-covered alley. From there the building’s original freight elevator transports the produce to the basement winery where whole grape clusters are de-stemmed and crushed by Alex Sena, the head vintner. The grapes then begin the fermentation process in the 58-degree environment, ideal for storing wine.
Fancy stemware, top 40 hits and an uppity atmosphere are things you will not find at Revel. Instead, you’ll enter into a conversation-focused scene, with old-school hip-hop and a range of eclectic artists and events off the beaten path of traditional vineyard entertainment. “We wanted to embody an experience of friends over for wine passing around a playlist—that’s the heartbeat of Revel,” says Anthony. “We’re in our own swim lane and wanted to make the bar as approachable as possible.”
Wine connoisseurs or those curious about the urban wine-making process can take a private, educational tour of their barrel room, where wines not yet on the menu, like their Barbera, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Carménère are still being aged.
For now, their immediate goal is getting their wine out into the world. “We want guests to bottle their experience at Revel and experience it in other locations,” adds Anthony. As of now, their bottles of wine can be found at city staples including Marty’s Hops and Vines, Prime Cincinnati, Salazar and a dozen more.