Established as a grape growers’ cooperative in the 1930s, the location at its height ranked as one of the largest wineries in Ohio with a combined storage capacity of 180,000 gallons. Named for the Dover region, known today as Westlake, the location specialized in Labrusca wines and served as a major ingredient and equipment supplier for local home wine and beer makers. For many years the winery also operated the Dover Chalet, a well-known Hungarian restaurant.
Acquired by Zoltin Wolovitis in the 1950s, it increased its distribution network by entering into a marketing agreement with the Rutman Wine Company. This opportunity enabled the company to sell its product through a variety of retail channels unavailable to other local wineries. In 1984, Bernard Rutman and others purchased the company and brought on Bob Bostwick as a consultant, a fifth generation winemaker and founder of Pennsylvania’s Heritage Wine Cellars and co-owner of Deer’s Leap in Ohio.
The ingredient and equipment supply side of the business is known today as the J.W. Dover, Inc. and has been owned by Jerome Welliver of Heartland Vineyards Winery since 1997. Firelands Winery, the vanguard facility for Lonz, Inc., now owns the Dover Vineyard brand of wines.
Image courtesy of the Ohio Wine Producers Association.