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Lonz 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:

1863 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 winery.
1865 Andrew Wehrle built his winery, and then added to it over the years.
1871 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.
1905 At a sheriff's sale (the winery had some financial trouble) the winery went to a trustee named Zoellinger.
1906 The winery is sold to August Schmidt, Jr., who also built the Hotel Hill Crest
1916 The property is purchased by John Roesch, James Hauck, William Conley and Earl Heinen
1920 Prohibition starts and wine-making stops, to be replaced by grape juice making
1922 The various interests were brought together under Clyde Blair
1923 In June, the winery/dance pavilion and hotel were destroyed by fire
1926 The ruins are bought by George Lonz and the building is reconstructed in Bavarian style.
1933 Prohibition - which started in 1920 - ends and George, who had been producing just grape juice, resumes wine production.
1942 On January 11, the winery burns to the ground a second time
1969 George Lonz dies with no heirs. Ownership is transferred to "The George F. Lonz Foundation", the winery continues operation, and the profits go to charity.
1972 The winery is sold to Phillip Portteus of Monroe, Michigan for $350,000.
1976 The winery is auctioned off piecemeal to satisfy lienholders, and is acquired by Terry Cornell of Port Clinton and Jerry Sawicki of Toledo
1979 The winery is sold to Robert Gottesman, president of Paramount Distillery of Cleveland, who had already purchased North Bass Island and its vineyards.
2000 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 story."

All Contents Copyright 2000, 2001 by Middle Bass on the Web, Inc. All rights reserved.

Reproduction without written permission is forbidden for any purposes other than personal use.

Revised: 21 Jul 2008 07:49:52.

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