Photos taken and article written by OSU student Linnea Stephens.
When choosing a hobby, many people pick something that helps them escape from their day-to-day lives. For Jeff and Janice Hanneman, their hobby turned into a full-time job, brand and passion for the wine industry.
“It all started with some friendly competition about who could make the best wine in their basement between close friends and family,” explained Janice. “We found such a passion for it that it grew into a business, and we were able to quit our jobs to pursue our dream of making wine full time.”
Located in Northwest, Ohio, the Hannemans founded Sycamore Lake Winery in 2013 where they produce their own wine on their family’s multigenerational lake property.
“I was approached by my uncle back in 2012 who suggested we build a winery on our 17-acre lake property,” stated Janice. “He was so happy to keep the land in the family and, even though the vineyards are surrounded by corn and soybean fields, people can still find us.”
When starting the business, the Hannemans’ past experiences with farming came in handy.
“Growing up on a dairy farm where we also raised corn and soybeans helped me when I decided to grow my own vineyard,” explained Jeff. “With my farm experience, I was able to use past knowledge of which pesticides help plants best and are safe for the environment.”
Although having a background in agriculture helped Jeff get his start, the internet was a strong resource as well.
“You are never too old to learn something new,” said Jeff. “When we first started producing wine, we had to Google some of the questions we had. Then the more wine we made, the more comfortable we got with the process.”
As the business grew and a retail store was added, the family decided to reach out to other family members and friends for extra help. It was important for them to keep the winery in the family’s name and maintain the Hanneman legacy.
“We decided to bottle and name our newest wine ‘Miss Lilly’ in honor of our first grandchild, Lilly Rose,” said Janice.
“’Sycamore Sue’ is named after our family dog and will be hitting the shelves soon,” added Jeff. “Sue has been a part of our family for over 11 years, and every one of our customers seems to know her. Whenever she comes in the door, everyone must stop what they are doing and say hello to her.”
The future of Sycamore Lake Winery is constantly evolving. The Hanneman family is growing with new grandchildren, and the business is expanding with the addition of local craft beer to their menu.
“We really appreciate all the help we have gotten from our family and friends,” explained Janice. “It takes so many people to make a business successful. We cannot thank our family, friends and customers enough for making our winery’s future seem so bright.”
Sycamore Lake Winery is located at 9660 Mayberry Rd. Columbus Grove, Ohio. You can find more information about the local business on their website.