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Wine of Ages

By France Griggs Sloat

Roughly 30 years ago, Dr. Donald Shumrick’s family planted its first grapevines on an Indiana farm field just 40 minutes west of their Cincinnati home. Over the years, the land got larger, the vines grew longer and the business blossomed. They started growing a variety of grapes on the Dearborn County farm—Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, American Stuben and Concord.

By 1985, some of Shumrick’s nine children decided they should make their own wine, and today that family business has grown from one that sold grapes to wineries to one that now bottles 5,000 cases a year of its own brands.

Through their Chateau Pomije winery, they supply grocery stores throughout the region. Their Chateau Pomije restaurant in Cincinnati also has a wine store that sells its own wines among 900 different varieties.

Shumrick, who earned an M.B.A. in 1994 and just retired as chair of the department of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at the University of Cincinnati, now spends his days shuttling between the winery and restaurant, depending on the time of year. During a six-week period in the fall when the grapes are sweetest, they are harvested and turned into wine.

Wine-making, Shumrick says, is as much an art as it is a science, requiring variety, supply and patience. He never stomped grapes barefoot in a bucket, but much of the process, he says, is the same today as it was 100 years ago—crushing, fermenting, racking, which allows the sediment to settle to the bottom of the tank, filtering and then bottling.

Shumrick’s winery fills six bottles at a time, which are stored upside down to keep the corks moist. All wine is bottled, aged and ready to sell within about nine months. Cheers.

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