Ohio Wine Producers Association Presents:
Ohio Wine Hall of Fame
The warmth of
the sun. The rolling slope of a hillside. A refreshing rain shower.
Time tested vines, bulging clusters of succulent grapes -- All gathered and crafted in the
gentle hands of a skilled winemaker. Many notes come together to create the symphony
of a vintage wine. Similarly, stretching over three centuries, many dedicated hearts
and sharp minds have shaped and nurtured the Ohio Wine Industry we know and embrace today.
Wine people appear in all
shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, with a variety of motivations. Some
Appear, make an imprint and leave us. Others are lifers.
All who touch this industry and its people contribute in some great or subtle way to the
harmony of our lives and livelihood.
It is with this understanding, that the board of directors of the Ohio Wine Producers
Association have established the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame.
Our purpose is to recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals to the wine
industry in Ohio, to gain recognition for the excellence in our industry and to encourage
Ohio owes the rich heritage of its wine
industry to Nicholas Longworth, whose passion for growing native grapes
and producing fine wines led to the development of the Ohio wine industry in the 19th
The 5' 1" "crazy Jerseyman" came to Cincinnati from Newark in 1803 at the
age of 21 with little more than the clothes on his back. He studied law for six
months, established a lucrative law practice, invested in land and became the wealthiest
man in Ohio. Wine growing was just beginning along the banks of the Ohio River in
Cincinnati. It became Longworth's hobby.
In 1823 he planted a vineyard overlooking the Ohio River using European vines. But,
they soon died. He made his first wine from native varieties Alexander and Isabella.
The in 1825, he discovered a
"wonder grape" called the Catawba. It met two critical requirements. The
grape was easily cultivated along the Ohio River and it produced an acceptable wine. Three
years later when Longworth tasted the first Catawba wine pressed from his grapes, he quit
his law practice and gave his full attention to winemaking.
In 1842, Longworth created America's first champagne, which he called "Sparkling
Catawba". With praise from across the country and as far away as Europe, he
could hardly keep up with the demand for his champagne and Catawba wine. A lasting
tribute "Ode to Catawba Wine" was written by the famous poet Henry Wadsworth
By 1860, thanks to Longworth's
passionate efforts, Ohio supplied one-third of the nation's wine and out-produced
California by two to one.
The most respected and successful winemaker of his time, Longworth is now known as the
Father of American Winemaking -- and certainly, the Father of Ohio Wine.
It is only fitting that Nicholas Longworth be the first member of the Ohio Wine Hall of
If Longworth is the Father of Ohio
Wine, this gentle man was certainly the industry's "fairy Godmother".
Born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania in
1918, Robert G. Gottesman, became a resident of New York City when he was
hired by Schenley Industries. In 1957, after a successful sales career, Gottesman
moved to Cleveland where he and his partner, Louis Zeller, purchased Paramount Distillers,
Gottesman's interest in the
wine industry began with Paramount's 1976 acquisition of Meier's Wine Cellars in
Cincinnati. Since then, he expanded the company's holdings with the purchase of 400
acres on North Bass Island, two hundred of which were devoted to vineyards.
Firelands Winery in Sandusky and Mon Ami Wine Cellars in Port Clinton were acquired in
Today, paramount is the largest grower and producer of wines and juices in the state of
Gottesman's ambitious entry into the wine industry has been credited with sparking a
renaissance in Ohio winemaking and his planting of some of the state's first vinifera
grapes bore testimony to his confidence in the future of fine Ohio wines.
In 1994, he brought honor to all of us by being the first member of the Ohio wine industry
to be inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame in recognition of his role in
revitalizing the states grape and wine industry.
He was a founding member of the Ohio Wine Producers Association. He initiated the
legislation that created the Ohio Grape Industries Committee, which has become a model for
similar programs in at least eight other states. He was a tireless crusader for our
industry working nearly to the very day he died.
Perhaps most importantly, his personal enthusiasm, crusty good humor, his vision, business
savvy, passion for our industry and his friendship touched nearly everyone in the industry
-- shaping us, nurturing and inspiring us all to be better winemakers and better human
You might Say, Dr. Jim Gallander is to winemakers what SO2 is to winemaking! Over
the years, he has kept us fresh and allowed us not to become oxidized!
James F. Gallander was born in Peoria, illinois in 1937. He earned his Bachelor's
Degree and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1960 and '64 in food
technology. In 1970, he was assigned resident duty at the University of California
at Davis where he worked in enology.
He began as an instructor at the OSU's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center
at Wooster while he was finishing his doctorate degree in 1963. Throughout the
years, he was consistently promoted first to assistant, then associate and finally
to full professorship in 1972.
His contributions to the Ohio wine indsutry can be measured at least in part, by the
hundreds of food science and enolgy research studies and resulting published articles and
presentations he has given in his career. His industry-shaping research placed him
behind podiums at wine meetings across the country, sharing not only his research, but the
message that Ohio wine industry is a progressive and aggressive competitor.
He has served as an advisor to the Ohio Wine Producers Association and organized the Ohio
wine competitions and guided the Short Course for dozens of years.
Even with these academic accolades, perhaps his greatest contribution to us has been the
time he has spent with the individuals in this industry and the many who have gone
before. Patiently and painstakingly, explaining again and again the fundamentals of
winemaking to many a fledgling enologist. His ability to teach us, his attention to
detail and his committment to quality has lengthened the list of all of our award-winning
wines and encouraged new winemakers to aspire to high standards.
It is with great pride that the Ohio wine industry welcomes Dr. James F. Gallander into
the ranks of the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame.
How can you possibly sum up the career and contributions to our industry of one Dr. Garth
Cahoon in just a few short paragraphs?
A native of Delta, Utah, Garth Cahoon earned a degree in technical soils from the Utah
State University in 1950 and a Ph.D. in Plant Science from the University of California at
Los Angeles in 1954.
He worked as a horticulturist at the University of California, Riverside, from 1953 to
1963 before coming to OARDC as an associate professor in Horticulture in 1963. By
1967 he was made full professor and in 1983 assumed the role of assistant Chair of the
Department of Horticulture at OARDC. Professional assignments in India, Somalia and
the Caribbean broadened his knowledge of small fruit horticulture.
Of course, we all know Garth as a tireless crusader for more grapes in Ohio, better grapes
in Ohio. A true champion for the Ohio wine industry.
It is with great honor that we welcome Dr. Garth A Cahoon to the first class of the Ohio
Wine Hall of Fame.
In the next year, you will learn about the mechanics of the program, but more importantly,
about how to nominate someone for this distinction. With your help, The Ohio Wine
Hall of Fame will become a lasting legacy and salute to the leaders of our industry.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF DONNIELLA WINCHELL
Donniella Winchell was elected to the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame in 2002.
Donnie grew up among concord grapes in Madison Ohio and had no intention of ‘coming back to the farm.’ As a no-too liberated woman of the sixties, her intention was to graduate from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania with a teaching certificate in history, work with kids in the classroom for a number of years, acquire additional certification and become the first female superintendent of her home school district.
As the saying goes, ‘Life is what happens when making other plans.’ After marriage and the birth of two daughters, an unexpected third child caused her to re-think career plans. In 1978 she was asked to become the ‘Executive Secretary’ of the fledgling Ohio Wine Producers Association. That year, the thirteen Ohio wineries approved an annual budget of only $700 and limited her hours to six per month to reserve enough money to purchase postage stamps. The part time position allowed her to raise a family – and as her family grew, she was able to devote more time to the organization. With tremendous support from the industry’s pioneers, Winchell went on to help build the association into one of the most respected wine organizations in the nation.
With the belief that the best wine marketing programs are based on a strong public relations component supported by consumer tasting events, she helped promote the industry though news releases and relationship building with tourism organizations and at consumer tasting events. In the early years, the association conducted hundreds of small wine tastings at service clubs and churches. More recently, the nationally acclaimed Vintage Ohio Wine Festival provided a pattern for expanding the tasting concept to large outdoor vernues across the state.
Winchell has serves on the boards of the Winegrape Growers of America, the WineAmerica State Advisory Panel, the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ohio Travel Association and on the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism Advisory Committee as well as on several other travel and economic development councils. She has contributed to several national wine publications including the Wine Enthusiast as well as Practical Winery and Vineyard, writes a weekly wine newspaper column and speaks regularly at regional and national wine and tourism conferences.
The Winchell family a brochure distribution service in northern Ohio as well as a family entertainment center, Adventure Zone, in the resort community of Geneva on the Lake, Ohio. She and her husband Larry have three grown children, several beautiful grandchildren and live on the shores of the Grand River in Ashtabula County.
Lou Heineman, Heineman Winery, Put-in-Bay
One of the first men contacted during the formation of the Ohio Wine
Producers Association was Louis Heineman. Louis owns the winery that has been in his family for three generations and has had a lifelong involvement in the business.
Louis served as an OWPA director for many years, having been president and vice president during part of that tenure. Through the years he has served
as an adviser and confidant to dozens of emerging winemakers across Ohio.
Louis's insights into the political arena, his geniality and overall
commitment to the industry helped forge a strong foundation for the Ohio
grape and wine industry.
The Heineman Winery, managed now by Lou and his son Ed, was founded in 1888
by Louis's grandfather Gustav Heineman, an immigrant from Baden-Baden,
Germany, a famed grape growing region of that country. The Lake Erie Islands were already noted for quality grapes as a result of ideal soil conditions and the long growing season because of the tempering effect of Lake Erie. By 1900, Heineman's was one of 17 wineries on Put-in-Bay.
The passage of the
Volstead Act creating the Prohibition of Alcohol in 1919 was catastrophic to
the Island's grape and wine industry. Most of the wineries failed and the
vineyards fell into disrepair. Heineman's survived under Gustav's son,
Norman, by selling unfermented grape juice and providing taxi cab service to
and tours of the Winery's caves. Ohio was one of the first States to go
"wet" after repeal, and Louis's father Norman received his grower's permit to make wine. With little competition Heineman's soon was again very successful.
As a young boy Louis cleared tables in the winery and at the age of 22
he ran the bar. Today the third and fourth generations of Heinemans, Louis
and Edward, share the family wine making tradition. Louis's daughter Angie
is the retail shop manager.
The Heinemans and other local growers cultivate 50 acres of grapes on the
island. This gives the winery "vine to wine" quality control year after
year. For the 50,000 gallons of wine produced annually the majority of grapes are
labruscas, most notably Catawbas, and the rest includes both viniferas and French hybrids.
Kenneth C. Schuchter Biography,
On April 26, 1931, Evelyn and Larry had their second child in a family that would number to eight. It was a little boy. They named him Kenneth.
Somehow, it’s almost possible to imagine that little four-year-old Kenny
Schuchter was already thinking about honey wine, steak cookouts, and wine festivals he would host for millions of patrons over the years,
Growing up in southern Ohio, Ken graduated from Morrow High School in 1949, where he loved to play basketball. He was also the captain of the basketball team when he attended Xavier University. He left Xavier in 1950 to marry Margaret Hamlin, to whom he was married for thirty-four years.
His southern Ohio life was interrupted when he left for Korea to run a bulldozer for the United States Army in 1952 and 1953. Shortly after he returned home from Korea he also returned to his education. He attended the University of Cincinnati where this time, he was the captain of the baseball team. He graduated from college in 1957 With a Bachelors degree in business.
That same year, he played in the National Amateur Baseball Championship and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. However the Reds only offered $30,000 and Kenny went with General Motors for $20,000 instead! He’s always been a good businessman!
Ken has also been a great family man, Daughter Angela was born in 1955; and Son Kenneth Joseph came along in 1958- now with wife Dodie and children Tiffany, Joe, and Kyle. In 1969 Ken was farming part-time and still working at General Motors, when he got the notion to plant a few grapevines. He didn’t realize that the few thousand plants he ordered would be cover nearly twenty acres.
With the prospect of thousands of gallons of grape juice flowing from the hillsides, Ken established Valley Vineyards Winery in the barn of the farmstead in 19t0. The Vineyard and Winery began to thrive under Ken’s careful eye, strong back and hard work. But Ken realized that the work wasn’t all in the fields. In the fledgling days of the Ohio wine industry, Ken was instrumental in the formation of the Ohio Wine Producers Association and served on its board for ten years. In the early 1980’s he also promoted the formation of the Ohio Grape Industries Program,
and served that board for nearly twenty years.
Just when it seemed like everything was going great for the family, the business suffered a terrible blow. In July of 1983, fire destroyed the winery. Wine and dreams went up in smoke! However, Ken was not defeated. He called on Meier’s Winery in nearby Silverton to supply wine for their September festival and Valley Vineyards hardly missed a beat. He vowed to rebuild the winery bigger and better, and he did. Today Valley Vineyards Estate stands among the largest, most successful and well-respected wineries anywhere.
With nearly 60 acres of grapes ranging from some of the states first Cabernet Franc, to hybrids and American varieties, the vineyard has been touted as one of the state’s finest.
In 1986, Ken married Beth Clemets, beginning a new and happy chapter in his life, Jumping right in with both feet, so to speak, Beth helped the family celebrate the Winery’s
20th Anniversary. By this time the winery was producing more than 30,000 gallons of wine annually.
Over the years, Ken and Valley Vineyards have earned countless awards and recognition for the excellence of their wines. Winemaker Greg Pollman and Ken enjoy a double gold, just one of many the wines have won over the years! A marketing genius, Ken has lots to smile about when they serve over 1,200 people in one weekend at their popular steak cookouts! That adds up to nearly 50,000 steaks per year, and did we mention they sell wine with those steaks?!
Forever dedicated to his family and the industry, Ken retired in 1988, turning the business over to Kenny Jo and Dodie. With exception of a few vacations, he still works a full week and stays very active and very involved. He starts every day with a cup of coffee and a family chat with his son.
Leader in the industry, good friend to all, quick with a smile and a friendly work, a joke and a glass of wine, That is Kenneth G. Schuchter of Morrow, Ohio. Founder of Valley Vineyards Estate, Ohio.
Tom & Mary Quilter’s Bio
Tom Quilter was born April 24, 1921, in Monroeville, Ohio to Timothy Michael and Helen Quilter. Tom spent his early years in Sandusky.
His father was a chiropractor, accomplished home winemaker, friend to many of the state’s founding winemakers and the first to introduce Tom to grapes and wine.
Mary was born April 30, 1921, in Toledo, Ohio, to William Henry and Anna Rose Comte. Mary spent her early years in Toledo where her father was a founder of the Comte Construction Company – which still exists today and is run by her brothers.
Mary was very much raised as a “city girl”. When her mother first saw her working in the vineyard at the farm, she said, “Sis, what do you know about farming?” --- a phrase which Mary is fond of quoting.
Tom and Mary met a DeSales College I Toledo. They married during wartime, August 12, 1944, in Mary’s home church, Holy Rosary Cathedral, in Toledo.
Immediately following the wedding, they moved to Chicago, where Tom enrolled in medical school at Loyola University.
Upon graduating, he served as a urological resident in the United State Navy.
While their first daughter, Mary Patricia, was born in Chicago, the next four children were born during their Navy years.
The first son, Thomas in Portsmouth, Virginia;
Second son, Michael, in Corpus Christi, Texas;
Third son, William, in Bethesda, Maryland;
And daughter, Elizabeth, in Naples, Italy.
After many years as an urologist in the U.S. Navy, the family returned to Ohio in 1054, where Tom went into private practice in Marion.
Their sixth child, Kathleen, was born in Marion, a short block from the current family home where they lived for almost fifty years.
Five states, two countries and ten years span the children’s births –1945 to 1955.
For the next twenty plus years, the couple was very busy raising a family and managing a private medical practice.
Tom grew roses in the backyard (a passion inherited from his mother) but in the 1960’s, grapevines, some of which still climb high through crabapple and evergreen trees, slowly replaced roses.
The formal growing of vines began as a “hobby” on a farm in Waldo, originally owned by their children’s babysitter.
The Quilters eventually purchased that farm and the original 120 vines are now in excess of 4,000, with ongoing plantings.
The Quilters survived over time and harsh winters to learn which grapevines belong best to the site.
Terroir, the natural environment of the sir, must have been in their souls since their early Navy sojourn to Italy.
Until 1984, when the winery was bonded, grapes were sold to home hobbyists and established wineries in the Lake Erie region.
All grapes now go into the production of the family label “Chateau Shamrock”.
Their customers are region and loyal with new visitors added every season.
Tom and Mary Quilter emphasize the French-American hybrids and the pairing of their wines with traditional foods of the area.
Besides his duties in the vineyard and winery, Tom served six years on the Ohio wine Producers Association Board of Directors and represented the wine industry ay many agricultural meetings.
Mary’s dedication to the winery and vineyard made it possible for Tom to serve the industry.
The Quilters can proudly claim Shamrock Vineyard as a family work in progress. Each of their children is involved in individual ways; vineyard-and-grandparents are synonymous in the minds of 14 grandchildren (ages 34 to 16 years); and five great grandchildren (ages 8 to 2 years) who have all played among the growing vines.
Volunteers and friends also contribute significantly to the intensive work of the vineyard.
Shamrock Vineyard is a happening of a couple devoted to each other and, for better or worse, to a “retirement” adventure with grapes.
We all wish them a happy 60th wedding anniversary this coming August. May they continue to age gracefully as their vines and wines.
They picked the Shamrock, a symbol of good luck, as the insignia of their winery, but Tom & Mary, we’re the lucky ones to have you in our industry all these years. Thank you.
Rose Marie Petrovic and Tony Debevc met at Madison on the Lake when she, the city girl, vacationed with her friends in a cottage near the water. He, the country boy, was, according to Rose, ‘a very kind and handsome man.’ He lived on the grape farm that his father, Anton, had established in 1916. She had worked at the Halle’s tea room in downtown ClevelandDuring their courtship, he used the farm’s gas ration cards to drive to the east side to visit. While their backgrounds were vastly different, they shared a Slovenian heritage and over more than 60 years, Rose and Tony built a wonderful life together, raised a family of which they are very proud and helped establish a business that is nationally respected.
They married in 1943 in the middle of the war and soon purchased almost 90 acres adjacent to Anton’s propertySeventeen acres of grapes were planted. Tony worked on the wells at the old Diamond Alkali in Fairport to pay off the property and support his family. He built his bride a tiny 2 room house, affectionately known as the ‘chicken coop.’ Their home had no telephone and only outdoor plumbing, seemingly a difficult lifestyle for the city girl. But they were happy because they shared a wonderful marriage. After the birth of their children, Donniella in 1945 and Anthony Paul in 1947, Tony spent the next 4 years building the ‘new’ house, based on Rose’s design, from logs he cut himself off the woods overlooking the Grand RiverDuring the next 50 or so years, as their family grew, they enjoyed an enviable life, surrounded by a cadre of dozens of friends, known as ‘the gang,’ with whom they shared pinochle games and popcorn and/or danced to Slovenian polkas on Saturday nights.
In those days, the grapes, all concord, were sold to Fischer-Speigel and later to Smuckers. Tony was a founding member of the Tri-County Grape Growers Association. Whenever the spring frosts killed an annual production, Tony worked in construction to keep the bills paid and the kids in college.
When son Anthony Paul, at the urging of people like Roy Kottman and Garth Cahoon, came home from Ohio State with the grand idea to start a winery, Tony and Rose willingly mortgaged the farm and at age 52 and 57 helped establish Chalet Debonne’Vineyards in 1971. It was the first winery in the area since the days of Prohibition. Most of the neighborhood thought they were ‘nuts.’
Over the years, vineyards were expanded, the tiny A frame building with 35 seats grew into a complex of hospitality rooms, state of the art cellars, juice houses, band stands, private tasting rooms, grape arbors and a most recently, a new complex to host dinners and banquets. A small Catawba Festival, established in 1974, drew several hundred local imbibers. It was replaced in the early eighties when the annual June Balloon Race was created. Weekly crowds grew from a few loyal locals, to thousands of annual visitors from nearly every state in the union. Through all the years, Tony has managed the vineyards and Rose the ‘the books’ as son Anthony Paul and his wife Beth pursued a dynamic business plan based on growth, quality fruit and fine wines. Daughter Donniella began working for the fledgling Ohio Wine Producers Association.
As their business grew, so did its reputation. The winery emerged as a local ‘labrusca’ producer but grew to become one of the largest and most respected estate wineries east of the Rockies. Its wines annually win gold medals in competitions against some of the world’s best labels. They have hosted senators and governors in their cellars. When Vineyard and Winery Management magazine established its ‘wine family of the year’ award, the first family chosen were the Debevcs from Madison, Ohio.
Since the winery’s establishment, in various ways and times, other family members have participated in the business. Granddaughters and grandsons, and now even great grandchildren can be seen in and about the winery grounds. Currently, besides son Anthony and his wife Beth, granddaughter Michelle and most recently grandson Tony Scott are actively involved in the business.
Rose and Tony celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary last June. In March, he will be 89 and still spends part of the winter and much of the spring tending his beloved vineyards. This April she will be 84 and still spends thirty to forty hours each week on winery business. The ‘gang,’ that ubiquitous circle of their wonderful friends, still play pinochle, travel together on bus trips and generally have enjoyed great friendships, fine wine and wonderful experiences for more than six decades. Rose and Tony’s children and generations to come are firmly entrenched in the wine business. Their lives are blessed – and they can be truly proud of the significant contributions they have made to Ohio’s grape and wine community.
We are honored to induct Rose Marie and Tony Joseph Debevc inducted the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame. Last pix
Markko Vineyards, Conneaut, OH, Bio to come
Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Geneva, OH, Bio to come
Allan Klingshirn inducted into Ohio Wine Hall of Fame.
The Ohio wine community gathers each winter to learn and celebrate at their Grape Wine Short Course. A highlight of each conference is the naming of an annual inductee to the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame.
Allen Klingshirn of the Klingshirn Winery in Avon Lake was the 2006 recipient of this, the industry’s highest award. Klingshirn purchased the family farm in 1955 from his father Albert who had established the winery in 1935, following the repeal of Prohibition. Under Allen’s leadership, the winery more than quadrupled in size and its buildings were expanded to include a retail tasting room. While raising a wonderful family of four children with his wife Barbara, he continued to tend juice grapes and sell them to regional processesers. When his son, Lee joined the business in 1986, vineyards were expanded to include a wide range of vinifera and hybrid wine grapes.
Klingshirn served the industry as a visionary who helped guide the early years of the ‘new’ industry in the early eighties, first as a member and then two-term president of the Ohio Wine Producers Association.
The Ohio wine family is proud to welcome Allen into the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame.
Great wines are borne in the vineyard. So growing great grapes in those vineyards requires attention to a myriad of details. Guiding the Ohio grape and wine community to produce the best grapes possible has been Michael A. Ellis, long time professor of fruit pathology at the Ohio State University. His influence can be seen in thousands of thriving vineyards from the Ohio River to the shores of Lake Erie. He was inducted into the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame in February 2009. Specifically, he was recognized for his research and extension work in grapes. However his enthusiasm, energy, can-do attitude, clear presentations and willingness to be ever helpful made it easy for well established growers and those just starting out to adopt his recommendations.
Michael was born in Seattle, but because of his father’s carrier in the navy moved frequently as a child. He received his BS in Education and a MS in Botany from Eastern Illinois University. He received his PhD in plant pathology from the University. Before coming to OSU in 1979, he taught at the University of Puerto Rico.
In addition to his enthusiasm for his profession, Michael is an avid historical re-enactor and devoted family man.
The Ohio Wine Industry is honored to welcome Michael A. Ellis into the Ohio Wine Hall of Fame.