of Middle Bass - The Tale of a Man, a Woman, a Building and an Island
Cover of Henry Barr's 1982 Book
- See Chronology Below
This 1982 book is occasionally available
from assorted used book dealers at a fairly reasonable cost. It chronicles
the winery history as follows:
Andrew Wehrle started pressing grape juice at
the site of the Lonz Winery where he had carved a 14' cellar out of the
island limestone - the same excavation that stayed in use at the Lonz
Andrew Wehrle built his winery, and then
added to it over the years.
Andrew Wehrle builds his residence on the
mound to the east of the winery. This burned to the ground in 1906 and was
replaced by the Hotel Hill Crest
which opened in 1907.
At a sheriff's sale (the winery had some
financial trouble) the winery went to a trustee named Zoellinger.
The winery is sold to August Schmidt, Jr.,
who also built the Hotel Hill Crest
The property is purchased by John Roesch,
James Hauck, William Conley and Earl Heinen
Prohibition starts and wine-making stops, to
be replaced by grape juice making
The various interests were brought together
under Clyde Blair
In June, the winery/dance pavilion and hotel
were destroyed by fire
The ruins are bought by George Lonz and the
building is reconstructed in Bavarian style.
Prohibition - which started in 1920 - ends
and George, who had been producing just grape juice, resumes wine
On January 11, the winery burns to the ground
a second time
dies with no heirs. Ownership is transferred to "The George F.
Lonz Foundation", the winery continues operation, and the profits go
The winery is sold to Phillip Portteus of
Monroe, Michigan for $350,000.
The winery is auctioned off piecemeal to
satisfy lienholders, and is acquired by Terry Cornell of Port Clinton and
Jerry Sawicki of Toledo
The winery is sold to Robert Gottesman,
president of Paramount Distillery of Cleveland, who had already purchased
North Bass Island and its vineyards.
In May, the Governor announces the state's
plans to purchase the winery and turn the property into a state park. The
winery continues operation until July 1, when the tragic collapse of a
concrete terrace kills one person and injures 80 more. The winery closes
for the last time on that day.
From the fly leaf:
"Lonz of Middle Bass is a
unique book, particularly in view of the fact that it covers not only the
obvious story of George Lonz and his wife, Fannie, but effectively
chronicles the history of Middle Bass Island from the earliest
explorations of Champlain in 1545 through the mid-nineteenth century when
the island, as it is known today, began to emerge."
"Mr. Barr, from the grandstand of 21
years of being 'summer people', was intrigued with the island story from
the beginning of his sojourn. He had the opportunity to know personally
many of the people who were George's contemporaries or were a part of the