Family-run winemakers JW’s Wine Cellars
offers unique varieties for every taste

Linda and Jake Wells of JW’s Wine Cellars are ready to tempt your palate
with their signature Sangiovese.

By Mike Rosenberg

“We just like making people happy,” explained Linda Wells, one half of the husband-and-wife duo behind JW’s Wine Cellars, an urban winery located in a ‘70s-era retail building in Trotwood.

“We have enough variety that everyone should be able to find something they like. We love that we’re able to offer so many unique flavors.”

Those unique flavors are the brainchild of Jake Wells, the shop’s co-owner and head winemaker. Before getting into the wine business, he worked for nearly 40 years at General Motors, working his way up from hauling carts full of bolts across the shop floor to supervising over 100 workers. But wine was his true passion, and it’s been in his blood his entire life.

“My grandmother made wine all the time. I used to go all over the neighborhood [Crown Point in West Dayton] finding empty bottles. I remember bringing them home, and she had this giant pot that she used to boil and sterilize them. People would come from all over to buy wine from her, and she showed me how to make it.” Jake’s face lit up as he recalled her blueberry and dandelion wines. “I still use her old recipes when I can.”

Jake made wine at home for himself and to distribute as gifts, but the demand among his circle became so intense that he couldn’t keep up with demand. “Eventually, we had to find a place to make the wine,” explained Linda, “because we wanted our kitchen back!” The couple opened their shop on Main Street. The front of the store is the tasting room. Jake practices his winemaking craft in the rear.

Like many small, urban wineries, Jake and Linda don’t grow their own grapes or fruit. Rather, they work with producers in Ohio and Chicago to purchase pre-pressed grape and fruit juice. The juice is the raw material for the art, Jake learned from his grandmother—the art of the blend.

“A lot of winemakers just get the juice and follow basic instructions. I think that the wine’s a lot more interesting when you put the flavors together in different proportions to make something new. I love to create new versions and flavors—it never gets boring. Some of my best wines started out as happy accidents!”

Jake’s been busy, producing about 600 gallons of wine per month. Their production is limited at the moment by space constraints in their present location. At present, JW’s offers a spread of 25 different wines. These wines range from familiar straight up varietal wines like Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay, to various fruit wines like cranberry, mango, pomegranate, and, of course, blueberry. There are also grape/fruit blends like his green apple, which is an apple & Riesling blend; or his strawberry Merlot blush wine. Most of the wines would be considered “soft.” The most tannic wine was their Cabernet Sauvignon, which Jake ages with oak chips.

All of Jake’s wines retail for between $8-12 per bottle. His sweeter wines are between 8-10% alcohol, while his dry wines range from 10-14%. “Our wines are made to be drunk not long after they’re bottled,” explained Linda. “With our wines, what you get is what you get—whether you open the bottle now or down the line. You don’t need to wait six years to open these bottles. Just enjoy.”

During my visit, I sampled my way down Jake’s lineup. Admittedly, I am a fruit wine skeptic. I’ve stopped at many small, local wineries who hawk fruit wines, which are almost universally thick, syrupy concoctions that bear more in common with Kool-Aid than wine that’s been crafted with a particular skill. Jake’s wines, although many are sweet, are much more restrained and balanced flavor-wise—clearly the product of a lot of homework on the part of the Wellses.

“When we first started,” explained Linda, “we did all sorts of research on the Internet and we read all we could. We started going to meetings of Ohio winemakers, and we thought they’d be a little snooty because we didn’t grow our own grapes. Instead, what we found was that people were really willing to offer advice and support.”

The Wellses say that their goal for the place is to create an atmosphere where people don’t feel like they have to come in, snag a bottle, and walk out. “We wanted a space where people can come in, have a glass of wine, relax, and socialize.” Cool jazz is the soundtrack of JW’s, and there are several tables and couches for kickback purposes.

JW’s has become a gathering spot in Trotwood, and the Wellses were nominated for the 2017 Trotwood Business of the Year by the local chamber of commerce. Glass pours are available for $5 apiece, but the better value would be to bring a group and split a bottle. [The Naked Vine recommends Jake’s Sangiovese, which I found worked well alongside a plate of pasta puttanesca—and the blueberry, which has a soft fruit flavor without being overly cloying.]

In addition to their Trotwood store, JW’s wines are available at Dorothy Lane Market, Arrow Wine & Spirits, and Little Farms Liquor Store in West Carrollton. They also produce personalized wines for weddings, graduation celebrations, anniversaries, and other special events. They hope to distribute in Cincinnati soon, as well, but they really encourage wine lovers to stop by and get to know them. “We’re a family-run business, and we know we’re only as good as the people behind the bar—so we try to make sure everyone has a great experience.”

JW’s Wine Cellar is located at 724 East Main Street in Trotwood. More information can be found at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Rosenberg at or visit his blog at

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