CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – An urban winery is looking to expand while continuing to help the Cleveland community it calls home by doing more than making wine.
The Vineyards and Winery at Château Hough established in 2010 aims to change the perception of the neighborhood. It’s in the early planning stages to demolish an abandoned brick building next door to expand its winery.
“Establishing a vineyard was kind of a political statement,” said Mansfield Frazier, the general manager. “The statement we’re making is that the land we occupy here in Hough it’s just as valuable to us as the land the people occupy in Hunting Valley is to them.”
Château Hough transformed a once vacant lot to a thriving business. The pandemic did slow it down, however a pivot to virtual wine tastings and outdoor events helped.
“Business is off from previous years but we’re surviving,” said Mansfield.
Buds are starting to appear on the vines, marking the start of a new season of growth and the chance to provide opportunities to the people in the neighborhood who call it home.
“Residents around here they tell me how much they’re proud of me,” said Marvin Foster. “I changed.”
Foster, 30, is a foreman at the vineyard. He began working there at 19 and now manages a crew of five.
“I train the grapes to grow, grow healthy and I make the wine downstairs,” he said. “From me being incarcerated to now, look I got a second chance out of life, opportunity, I just take advantage of it every opportunity I get I thank God.”
He credits Frazier for his growth, and now works to pass his experience on to teenagers who also work at the vineyard.
“The narrative in Cleveland always has been that the east side is less valuable, that it’s crime ridden, and we want to change that narrative by re-creating the Black middle class,” said Frazier. “This is part of our effort to do that.”