Megan Dawson was born in Marion and grew up in Waldo. She graduated from River Valley, Marion Technical College, and Hocking College. Growing up in the hospitality business gave her the opportunity to work in fine dining and wine bars from Houston Texas to Ithaca, New York. After the pandemic, she decided to return home to bring her experience as a sommelier downtown. She opened The Wine Down this month at 119 W Huber Street.
Megan describes herself as a “cork dork.” Becoming a certified sommelier required a grueling study of chemistry, geography, history, botany, and geology. The final exam is a three-part series, which included testing her ability to determine a grape variety, the country and region in which it was grown and the year it was produced. This process, known as deductive tasting, is all done just by the sight, smell, and taste of a glass of wine.
“You have to train your palette and nose to be able to identify subtleties that are specific to every style of wine,” Dawson said. “The world of wine can be very intimidating; however, the role of a sommelier is humble. My job is not to tell you what wine you should or shouldn’t be drinking. It is to listen to the customer, to help the find the wine THEY love, no matter one’s budget.”
The Wine Down’s tagline is: “Discover the wines you never knew you loved.”
The Wine Down’s selections are carefully curated from small independent producers from around the world. Some selections come from vineyards that have been in a single family for several generations; much like many farmers right here in Ohio.
“These wines are full of history, the life’s blood to these families, and the ultimate communion between man and nature,” Megan explains. “I believe in wines and I want to support the people who make them. I’m a storyteller of these wines, making them approachable and enjoyable to suit everyone’s taste.”
Priding herself on customer service, Megan’s goal is to make every customer feel comfortable in their discovery experience.
“Great wine doesn’t have to be expensive,” she adds.
Dawson’s hometown and the thriving business community have embraced her and her new business.
“I’m very grateful for the support of this community. I have so many friends and people who care and want to help me. I love being right here in downtown Marion. I want to send that forward,” Megan said.
Megan did wine tastings at the Shovel City Drinkery for a year before opening to get a sense of Marion’s tastes in wine.
“It’s exciting to see our downtown coming alive. You can have a great experience without driving to Columbus,” Megan said. “I want to provide the same experience you would have in any major metropolitan area. I want that caliber of quality and worldliness. It’s about the experience.”
Several customers agree.
“It brings a different atmosphere and dynamic to the North Main side of downtown,” said James Lloyd of Marion. “It offers something Marion has been missing.”
“We’re excited for a wine place to go for quality wines in Marion. The tastings are very good. She’s very knowledgeable,” said Cathy Adkins of Marion. “You can tell these are quality wines.”
While the experience is high-end, the price tag is not.
“She’s very reasonable,” said Larry Hamilton of Marion.
“My goal is to offer good wines at great values,” Megan said.
This wine shop offers tastings or a glass before committing to the purchase of a bottle. She partnered with Leiha Lamb of the Yellow Finch Creations to provide charcuterie trays to complement the wine.
Megan said she wanted the Wine Down to feel welcoming as if you are relaxing in a friend’s living room.
The Wine Down is open from 2 – 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, follow them on The Wine Down | Marion OH | Facebook.