Kenneth C. Schuchter
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 to 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 1970. 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, a 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 state's 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 double gold medals, 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 Joe 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.
A 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.