LANCASTER, OH (WCMH) — A central Ohio couple changed their lifestyle from raising a family and working the 40 hours per week grind to operating a vineyard and two wineries.

Married for 35 years, Valarie Coolidge raised the family and her husband Robin worked the grind in information technology. That changed when they purchased Wyandot Winery in 2006. It became a full-time career when they started Rockside Winery and Vineyards in 2014 in rural Fairfield County.

Ohio Wine and Grapes2016 Economic Impact
Full-time Equivalent Jobs8,067
Wages Paid$264 million
Wine Produced (Gallons)1.228.000
Retail Value of Ohio Wine Sold$61 million
Number of Wineries265
Grape-Bearing Acres1,500
Wine-Related Tourism Expenditures$321 million
Number of Wine-Related Tourists1,377,000
Taxes Paid: Federal / State and Local$75 million/ $72 million
Source: The Economic Impact Of Ohio Wine And Wine Grapes – 2016

“The best thing about owning your own business is that your challenges are your own,” Robin said. “I was an IT guy for 30 years. All of the challenges I was getting were somebody else’s challenges.”

He openly recognized there are stressful times of running the wineries.

“I would never go back to working for somebody unless I absolutely had to,” Robin said.

Robin went from pushing buttons on a keyboard to pushing tractors out of the mud.

The Coolidges are part of the growing grape industry in Ohio. Since 2016, wineries have increased by 20 percent; there are currently 373 of them in the Buckeye State.

The Coolidges want people to feel comfortable drinking wine and Robin offered this advice as to when to drink what type of wine, “Don’t be intimidated.”

“It’s a lifestyle choice. That’s really what it’s all about,” he said.

Wine industry in Ohio

The popularity of wineries and vineyards is bustling as there are more than 373 of them around the state, including many in central Ohio.