Summit County winery reopens, works to rebuild following explosion

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)

NORTON, OH (WOIO) - A Summit County winery reopened its tasting room Monday, less than one week after an explosion forced a temporary closure.

The explosion ruined about half of the Winery at Wolf Creek, destroyed aged bourbon and brandy and ignited old pictures on fire. Despite the damage, the owner said he considers himself lucky because no one was hurt.

"It's been a process and it's a process you can't really prepare for when you own your own business," Andy Troutman said.

Walking up to the Winery at Wolf Creek, the damage sits in plain sight. Caution tape and orange fencing block off part of the building that was destroyed during the May 30 explosion and fire.

"I think the biggest shock for me was it was just gone," Troutman said.

Troutman bought the Summit County winery in 2002. It's a picturesque spot people love.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful place," said Pat Taibi. "To see the destruction and to see (Troutman) standing here, you couldn't ask for any more than that."

Customers said they are amazed the winery is back open so soon after the explosion.

"I can't tell you how many hours and times we've spent playing Scrabble. This is our place to come to," said Ann Worley. "All the staff really pitched in, from what I've been told, and it's just fantastic to be back open."

Troutman still can't believe how it all happened.

"I was very lucky," he said.

He said he walked from the winery to a house next door to grab a cup of coffee. Not long after he left, he heard a strange sound.

"It's a sound I will never forget," Troutman said. "To me, it sort of sounded like a whoosh and a hiss."

When Troutman came back, he was shocked to see what happened to his winery. The explosion destroyed a large section of the building's walls and completely charred other spots.

"It's been a process and it's a process you can really prepare for when you own your own business," Troutman said.

Troutman said there's no timeline on when the damaged part of the winery will be fixed. The explosion destroyed office space, a storage room, microdistillery, and rental room. They're working with guests who scheduled planned events at the winery.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Winery officials said the animals on site, including goats and alpacas, are OK.

The winery expects to assume normal summer business hours starting Tuesday.

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