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Catawba Island Wine Company

1870 - 1930

This Amazing Site has a Long and Fascinating history. In the 1870s, a group of local farmers and grape growers formed a wine cooperative, which became known as the Catawba Island Wine Company (CIWC). The original winery's construction was completed in 1872, and it included the present-day tirage, ballroom, loft, and all four wine cellar vaults. However, the CIWC went bankrupt in the early 1900s, leaving the building vacant for around 25 years. In the mid-1920s, the building was Rented out by an Entrepreneur from Detroit, who Converted the first floor into a Put-Put Golf Course shortly after it was purchased by Addison Ellithrope of Wayside Tea, who converted the building into a Tea room.

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Photo By: Ernst Niebergall

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Mon Ami Champagne Co.

1933 - 1972

The building's story continued in 1937 when it was sold to Mon Ami Champagne Company, originally a Texas-based company that had relocated to Sandusky. Mon Ami Champagne Company converted the building back into a winery and used it for the production and storage of champagne.

However, in 1943, disaster struck when a fire ravaged the building, killing one and leaving only the original stone walls and the four cellars intact. The estimated loss of $24,000 in wine stocks was a heavy blow for the winery, which already was in quite a bit of financial trouble, not unlike its predecessors of the Catawba Island Wine Company. Two years after the fire, during the reconstruction phase, the building was expanded to include a restaurant. The main floor was converted into a dining space, which is now the present-day ballroom. An addition was also built on the east side of the building to serve as the kitchen, now known as the present-day vineyard room. Despite the fire, the building was able to rise from the ashes and remain an integral part of Catawba Island's history.

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Photo From: Port Clinton Herald And Republican 1943

In 1956, Mon Ami Champagne Company was sold to the Mantey family, who had historical ties to the Sandusky wine-making business. Norman Mantey continued Wine and Champagne production under the Mon Ami Champagne Company name. Under Mantey, the building harkened back to the Old World Connections that the Original Champagne Company had Created, preserving its status as an important landmark in Catawba Island's history. In 1972, the building celebrated its 100th anniversary, a testament to its longevity and enduring significance in the community.

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Photo From: Port Clinton News Herald 1974

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Paramount Distilleries

1976 - 1999

In 1980,  the building, along with other notable wineries in the area, was purchased by Paramount Distilleries, a Large drink manufacturing company that had just stepped into the Wine Industry a few years prior. Wine & Champagne production ceased on-site and was moved to Meier's Wine Cellars & the Mantey Winery. But the lower cellar vaults were still used for storage. Around this time, Mon Ami (Under Paramount) ranked among the leading wineries in Ohio, producing 42,000-50,000 gallons of champagne annually. 

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By the mid to late 1980s, the building was no longer used for Champagne Storage, resulting in the closure and disuse of the two lower vaults. The Building was now just a restaurant and entertainment facility. Another extension was added to the building's north side, with the kitchen expanded to span the entire back half of the building, now the present-day kitchen. The previous kitchen was remodeled into a wine shop and tasting room, providing a new experience for visitors to the historic building.

Mon Ami Restaurant & Historic Winery

2000 - 2019

In 2001 the building was purchased by an owner with ties to Firelands Winery. Due to this Partnership, 99.9% of Mon Ami Wines were Created Off cite and From Grapes Around the United States. The Building was classified as a Historic winery at this point and the cellars were no longer in use except for seeing ceremonies and some private events. Mon Ami continued to be known for Their sweet wines, Seafood buffets, and musical entertainment on weekends. The Chalet and Wine Shop were renovated Soon after the building's Purchase.

1976 - 1999

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Gideon Owen Wine Company

2020 - Present Day

In June 2019, Quintin and Donna Smith purchased the historic building on Catawba Island, along with the surrounding property, with the intention of bringing winemaking back to the island and preserving its green spaces. Their plans included planting vineyards and reviving the winery's legacy of producing high-quality wines on-site.

In May 2020, the building was reopened under a new name, Gideon Owen Wine Company, marking a departure from its former association with the Mon Ami and Firelands Wine brands. This rebranding aimed to establish a new identity for the winery that would celebrate its rich history while also signaling a new era of innovation and growth.

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In 2022, the building celebrated its 150th anniversary, and the Gideon Owen Wine Company began crafting wines on the property once again, using the lower cellar and adjacent wine barn for wine production. The winery's first vintage, Made from Lake Erie AVA grown grapes and produced entirely on-site in over 40 years, included a 2022 Chardonel, 2022 Pinot Grigio, 2020 Red Blend, 2022 Riesling, and a 2022 Rose of Cabernet Franc, all of which will be released throughout 2023. Marking a significant milestone in the winery's history and a testament to the Smiths' commitment to preserving the winery's legacy while also embracing the future of winemaking on Catawba Island.

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Want to Know More?

Read More about our History, Winemaking, Events, and About Quintin & Donna on our Blog Page!

Explore our Cellars First Hand and Hear more about the History and the Winemaking process Every Wednesday during our Cellar Tours!

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