Michele and Bill Hollister have been wine enthusiasts for several decades, sampling wines wherever they’ve traveled and even making their own blends. During their time living in Oak Harbor and Fremont, they were frequent patrons of Chateau Tebeau Winery in Helena, even buying some of their winemaking supplies there.
So, when the owners, Bob and Mary Tebeau, suggested that perhaps the Hollisters would like to buy the winery, the Hollisters agreed. Well, not immediately, but they soon realized that this was where they had been headed for years.
“We’re both business teachers, so we have that business background,” explained Michele Hollister. When the Tebeaus retired, the Hollisters opened Chateau Winery and Vineyard in July, 2022, and they haven’t looked back.
Farming, producing, selling and distributing
Michele describes Chateau Winery and Vineyard as a 36-acre farm, with a 3.5 acre vineyard, featuring hardy grapes that can thrive in this northern climate. The vineyard produces grapes for the following varietals:
- Frontenac (a big red with a strong cherry taste)
- Noiret grapes, for use in red blends
- Traminette (a white with many of the same flavors as Gewurztraminer)
- Vignoles (a white commonly found in wines vinted in the Midwest and New York’s Finger Lakes)
They also purchase grape juice from vineyards around the country, which the winery uses to make wines including Riesling, Pinot Gris and a new Chardonnay, as well as Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and Merlot. They plan to add more grape varieties to the vineyard in the future. Chateau Winery & Vineyard products are sold at more than 50 retailers throughout northwest Ohio, including several Home Buys and Wal-Mart locations.
In addition to the vineyard and winery, the Helena property also includes a tasting room / restaurant, an outdoor area with a koi pond, a gazebo, other seating areas and a home.
Changes and expansions
When Chateau Winery & Vineyard first opened, many guests were concerned about the changes the Hollisters had planned. While they changed a few things around the property, much remains the same. Most important is the “Friends Gather Here” sign prominent in the tasting room. “A lot of guests have told us that the place has a friendly atmosphere,” Michele said. “The support of our customers has been great. Many of them have become our friends.”
They have added seasonal food items to their menu and along with bringing in the occasional food truck. They began offering special events, such as “vino bingo,” music trivia and paint parties. They feature live weekend music (outside when the weather’s good) and are creating a schedule of events to host on the grounds.
The winery has become a popular stop for bus tours from around the region, according to Michele, and guests can stop by for wine tastings or they can call ahead to schedule vineyard tours. “We’ve also found that the winery (located just south of Ohio Route 6 near Helena) is a great stopping point to or from Lake Erie, especially in summer,” she explained.
Chateau Winery & Vineyard, 525 State Route 635 in Helena. 419.638.5411 or visit chateauwineryandvineyard.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00 am. to 8:00 pm. Wednesday and Thursday, 11:00 am. to 10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. Also check Facebook and Instagram pages for information.