A Winery in Hough?

Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 01/12/2009 - 17:09.
01/15/2009 - 10:00
01/15/2009 - 12:00

Note from Mansfield Frazier regarding a winery in Hough:

Ward 7's recently-elected representative, Cleveland City Councilman TJ Dow, has asked me to assist him with jumpstarting a project. He would like to explore the idea of situating a first-class winery in the Upper Chester area of the ward, which is immediately adjacent to University Circle, and in the shadow of Cleveland Clinic. Such a facility would tap into the nascent green movement by potentially utilizing grapes grown on the vast expanses of vacant land in Cleveland, while creating employment opportunities for local residents in the areas of wine production, marketing, distribution, equipment maintenance, bookkeeping and a host of other jobs. Additionally, such a facility would become a gathering focal point for community events and other entertainments.

As with any project, the devil is always in the details. Can quality grapes be grown in Cleveland soil, or would the "must" to make the wines have to be shipped in 30 miles from the Grand River Valley area? A number of questions of that nature will have to be answered, but the idea certainly has enough potential upside to make it worth exploring.

Councilman Dow wants invite individuals from within and without Ward 7 to an exploratory meeting to be held at 10 am, on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 at 1854 E. 79th St, which is located 150 yards north of Chester Ave, on the northwest corner of LaGrange Ave.  We are hopeful your schedule can accommodate the meeting, but you are more than welcome to send a surrogate in your stead if you have a calendar conflict.

Additionally, I'll update you on what transpired if you want to become involved at a later date in what we believe can be an exciting project that will move the ward, the area, and indeed the City of Cleveland forward. Please RSVP by Jan. 12 via email mansfieldfATgmail.com, and feel free to pass this invitation along to anyone you think could add to the discussion.

Councilman Dow and I look forward to seeing you on Jan. 15.


1854 E. 79th Street
Cleveland, OH
United States


Test that soil!

soil testing

Did I post this in my previous musings about grapes?

Obviously I love the idea, but as you say, Jenita always test the soil first. 

But here is the promising story of reuse of the old Diamoond Shamrock brownfield - Ohio State Is Helping Turn Northeast Ohio Brownfield into Unique Vineyard.

At the urban famers meeting Thursday evening I met Farmer Dan and told him about my viticulture dreams for the area on the escarpment east of the new juvi center. He said that prisons produce the bulk of new farmers in the US and here's why. When someone is locked up they have time - time to watch things grow. Perceptive. In Colorado, inmates are learning beekeeping skills... It's happening elsewhere in Ohio, too. Maybe the kids could help in a vineyard and learn to grow grapes - that is if the soil permits. 

Will you buy some futures for Chateau Hough 2020?

There are some interesting wines produced in Ohio, and winemaking is a viable industry here. Whether winemaking in Ohio is a good business, and whether it makes economic sense in Hough, at any level, is an interesting business question that should be analyzed. Has it been?

Around five years ago there was much talk among smart people about growing windmills and wind power in NEO, and the community was taken by our "leadership" in the wrong direction... rather than focusing on simple wind and alternative energy production, our community leaders decided we must focus on going to Mars - we put all our eggs in an off-shore wind turbine industrial manufacturing strategy that has little chance of having a positive impact here, any time soon, if ever, and that has taken all local resources, attention and trust away from doing smart, simple things to improve life here for everyone.

I hope this Chateau Hough concept doesn't divert scarce redevelopment dollars and distract community leaders from the fundamental issue of empowering 1,000s of independent local residents to grow 100,000s tons of local food for our 1,000,000s of local people.

When I presented to Cuyahoga County a plan for growing local food and infrastructure in our urban core, it was based on simple economics of growing simple foods for simple markets... and grapes would certainly be one of those simple foods. We also plan for producing and distributing complex secondary food products - value added products - like salsa.

Within that plan, it is certain 100s of local farmers and food workers will soon grow, produce and profit from 100s of food products consumed in the local marketplace, with little overall risk attached to any one product - the system is intentionally rapidly adaptable to insure survivability and economic stability under any climatic, economic and social trends and conditions.

Regarding producing wine, few foods (if you call it that) are more complex, labor intensive, and dangerous. What is the cost/benefit of this plan - who works in the various sectors of the industry, under what terms, and who profits, when, if ever.

An easy way to test this concept is to fund it by selling futures - get rich people or the Catholic Church here to pay $200/case now for Chateau Hough 2020. They take the risk the wine is poor or never produced.

Disrupt IT


Yes test the soil first and also kept an eye on the Port Authority they have there eyes on this area


 "situating a first-class winery in the Upper Chester area of the ward, which is immediately adjacent to University Circle, and in the shadow of Cleveland Clinic"


Mr. Dow is starting at the wrong end of the project.  

Funny, he already knows where the first class winery will be located before he has any grapes!

Wine is like coffee – a “cash” (maybe) crop.  That’s always risky.  If urban vacant land is to be used for agriculture, grapes are about the last crop that is sensible to plant.   For one reason, they are often sprayed.    They also benefit from mechanical harvesting – look for those off-road rigs whizzing under the Clinic bridges on Carnegie!  Wineries also smell -  from the fermentation and the grape pulp solids which need to be trucked off. 

I think this is a ass backwards plan to get an “authentic” wine  tasting restaurant in the “shadow” of the Clinic and the “hip” Circle zone. 

When I swirl the glass around and take a sniff, this "plan" doesn’t pass the smell test with me - it's corked!


Free wine... in the urban core

All local food initiatives need to have sound economic fundamentals. The interesting thing about wine is that lots of people pay lots of money to drink lots of it, while few really know much about what they are drinking.

To raise money, the Cleveland Orchestra used to and perhaps still does sell a private label wine, and my parents bought 20-30 cases a year. If the objective is to have a "Chateau Hough" wine, for branding or fundraising, that could be released in a few weeks... just find local wineries willing to label some of their wine for Chateau Hough and sell away.

If the objective is a "Chateau Hough Winery" that is bricks and mortar and produces quality wine from quality grapes, they will be buying the grapes from other sources for a long time, if not always, but they could have the wine processing, storage, bottling, labeling, etc., in Hough.

I think any of those ideas could work, if there is someone who really wants to make it happen. But those plans would probably be small scale - like Great Lakes Brewing Company, at best. And it would probably include a restaurant. There are enough doctors and other relatively wealthy people within a few miles of there - from the Clinic to downtown - and enough boutique restaurants and markets in the region, that any sincere effort to promote a Chateau Hough wine of any quality could sell.

To include in the plan developing vineyards is a whole other business that may or may not make sense in Hough. 

With proven methods we may produce around $200,000 worth of other various simple, raw, grown food per urban acre, for which there is a certain market. 

If some people want to grow grapes and produce wine, what is cool. But let's not start thinking a good bottle of wine is more important than a good jar of strawberry jam... and around where I went to college they make wine from strawberries, so there is no reason to focus on grapes, to produce wine.

As a last thought, I believe there are already billions of dandelions growing in Hough just waiting for harvesting each Summer, and they may be used for wine as well... and are free.

Free wine... in the urban core, where it is most needed and will be greatly appreciated... that makes real sense to me.

Disrupt IT

How about Mount Pleasant Vodka, Glenville Gin...

WHen you think about the winery idea, I think it may make better economic sense to produce other alcohol, rather than wine.

One product I propose is Mount Pleasant Vodka, to be produced from potatoes grown in Mount Pleasant. I believe there is an old brewery at Quincy around 105 that would be a perfect facility... would end up state of the art, and a historic landmark. We'll make the world's best potato vodka and charge top dollar.

Grasp this. This summer we grow potatoes and have $20 a bottle vodka in stores by the holidays... world-wide.

And here is a question for you chemists in the house... if you grow the potatoes in lead or otherwise contaminated soil and then use that to make vodka, will the toxins pass through to the end product or be eliminated during distillation, filtering, etc.?

Now, for my part of town, Glenville Gin.

I'll have a Glenville and Juice, please!

Copyright all that to real.coop

Disrupt IT

Interesting to consider history of vodka

It is interesting to consider how the economics of vodka worked throughout its history, where it was born, in Russia. Consider what developed in Russia, when government intervention was lowest... or even supportive of vodkapreneurship: Consider doing this in Cleveland now...and really right...

Throughout Russian history, the manner of vodka production and sales has changed many times. The system of wine lease, the right to produce and sell vodka for a payment of a small percentage of income to the state, that made the leaseholders fabulously rich, was constantly being introduced and withdrawn. Peter the First combined leases with the state sale of vodka, trying to increase the income for the state to a maximum. During the reign of Peter the Great, the dynasties of Russian «vodka kings» started. In 1716, the first Emperor of all Russia offered the aristocracy and the merchants the exclusive right to distil wine.

In the middle of the 18th century, vodka was produced not only by state-owned distilleries, but also by land-owning aristocracy. Empress Catherine the Second, who favoured the nobility and granted it numerous privileges, made wine distillation the sole privilege of the aristocracy. The Empress's order of March 31, 1765 allowed only the nobility to distil wine and also freed them of all accompanying taxes. Rich merchants that made their fortunes at the time when anybody could produce vodka if he paid the «wine distillation tax» tried to share in the ownership of distilleries with aristocrats or use their names in the documentation. However, the government saw to it that the privilege of the nobility was kept and mercilessly punished those who disobeyed, confiscating such distilleries.

It is not surprising then that the largest part of vodka was produced in the estate of the nobility and the quality of the drink was unsurpassable. The producers attempted at high quality water cleaning and used natural proteins: milk and egg white.

It is also interesting to note that home-made vodka, unlike that of the state distilleries, was mostly flavoured. During the process of making home-made vodka, the alcohol was distilled three times, water and various plant flavours were added, and then the vodka was distilled once more for the fourth time! According to contemporaries, the tables in the estates of the nobility bore decanters with drinks that today we cannot even imagine! Sophisticated gourmets considered it a point of honour to have all sorts of vodka with flavours whose names started with all letters of the Russian alphabet. With cherry and pear, blackberry and acorn, caraway seed and dill, bird cherry and sage what a number of berries, roots and tree seeds was used for flavouring the traditional Russian drink! And, almost every landowner had his own special sort of vodka!

Disrupt IT

There are so many things you

There are so many things you can do to grow your own food and perserve your own food - sometimes I grow vegetables and preserve them for winter use - a couple of years ago I grew enough  green beans to use all summer and  canned about 30 quarts - we had fresh green beans for specials days all winter - every year or two I make strawberry jam - enough to do a couple of years - I never cared for it but a lot of folks say dandelion wine is the greatest.  I think it's an acquired taste.

As Jackson says, Clevelanders need to learn to survive

All these smart things you do are not as easy as they sound... part of the mission ahead is to educate people of all types to be smart like you. 

As a co-op, we can pool our regional and global resources, knowledge, facilities and technology to move as many people and the local foods sector as far into the $ billions as fast as possible - think as huge as your mind may... think about shifting $7 billion per year in local spending to local interests, including helping millions of people eat better while saving $ billions by helping themselves by growing and producing their own food and food for their community.

Disrupt IT

Frazier follows up

In this article by Mansfield Frazier, he addresses the early misconceptions for those who were not in attendance at the winery in Hough meeting held last month:

In Vino Veritas

"They also heard from attorney Richard Herman, who explained the EB5 visa, a federal program that would allow millionaire investors from all over the world, and especially from China, to invest in the winery idea, as well as other business startups in minority communities. The new stores and shops along stretches of Payne Avenue (Cleveland’s newly emerging Chinatown) is something we in Hough should be seeking to emulate in our own community, and outside investors have assisted in the development of many other areas of the country. Columbus redeveloped an entire section of the city with the efforts of African immigrants — many of whom we slammed the door on here in Cleveland.

The visa program is relatively simple and straight forward: If a foreign national invests $1 million in a business that creates 10 jobs, the investor and his immediate family are granted green cards — the first step to American citizenship. Other investors — some that don’t care to leave their home countries — are looking to invest a great deal more. They’re holding literally trillions of US dollars abroad and know that the American economy, while at low-ebb now, is one of the most stable in the world.

Take the Medical Mart for instance. According to Herman, Chinese investors stand ready to put up all of the money to make the project a reality (instead of us taxing ourselves to raise the funds). The City of Philadelphia recently went that route on their proposed convention center. When our elected officials give a dozen reasons why something can’t be done here that is being done successfully elsewhere, the smell of bullshit begins to permeate the air."

I find it helpful to get a bit more information (than that contained in the invitation to a preliminary ideas meeting) about something before ruling it out or labeling it ass backwards. Frazier apparently smells bullshit, too and it's not because his neighbor has a bull in the backyard.

As far as the location, Jeff, it could be that anything TJ Dow does in the shadow of the Cleveland Clinic is simply because, uh... his ward is in the shadow of the Clinic; it's southern border is Chester Avenue from E30th to E105th. 

How about your opinion on the immigration issue? I think I have heard you say that immigrants are part of the problem, not potentially a part of a solution. What say you? Protectionism and a wall between Southern California and Mexico, or a more complex investment strategy like the one outlined above?

Please click though and read Frazier's piece before firing off a response.

If Frasier has a plan it may work with Co-Op Food

I think Hough is a great place for urban foods - and not for any port expansion or related industrialization, traffic and blight.

Great buildings and bones... and lots of open space already cleared... few demos required.

If I had my way, I'd tear down most of what has been built in Hough since the 1920s or so, restore the rest, and restrict vehicle access and remove many streets and fill the neighborhood with productive real beautiful gardens of bounty.

Hough's anchor for their considerable piece of the foods sector is the Richmond Brothers Building.... right down 55th from the food terminal one way and the shoreway the other, it is adeal.

I've been meaning to talk to the new councilman about this, as Hough is definitely an area I'd like to see much of the Real Co-op Food and Info development happen - I love Hough and hear good things about the new councilman.

Frasier or anyone interested in all this should start positng some info here where we can get some complete dialog going... unless this is a COOL Cleveland only kinda thing... 

Disrupt IT