The late Arnie Esterer, Co-Founder and Head Winemaker of Markko Vineyard
Tim Hubbard, co-founder of Markko Vineyard, testing a sample of wine in the winery’s cellar.
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1968, Markko Vineyard – The first planting of grape vines at the vineyard.
Arnie Esterer studied under the late Dr. Konstantin Frank, a well-known viticulturist and winery owner who promoted the vinifera varieties in the Finger Lakes area in New York and other areas along the East Coast throughout the 1960s and into the early 1980s.
(1977) Dr. Konstantin Frank (1899-1985) was considered by many as the “pioneer of vinifera growers in the East. This independent man, whose spirit and perseverance was legendary among those of us who knew him. He was a man not easily forgotten, a man of great conviction and purpose, whose contribution to the research and development of vinifera led to an explosion of wineries in the eastern United States”. (Kent State-Ohio Winemaker & Wine Owner Collections)
Pictured left to right: William “Bill” Konnerth (1911-2005) and Leon Adams (1905-1995) at Markko Vineyard.
Leon Adams was a well-known author of books, articles and pamphlets about North American wine and the founder of the Wine Institute, a trade organization that represents California’s wine industry.
Bill Konnerth, co-founder of Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle Wine Cellars, was known to give talks on wine-making while touring Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. (Kent State-Ohio Winemaker & Wine Owner Collections)
Photo features Arnie Esterer and the late Linda Frisbie (1940-2015), veteran wine taster and employee at Markko Vineyard for over 40 years.
Markko Crew – @2016
Short History of Markko Vineyard as told by Founder Arnie Esterer
“Here in Ohio, people have been making wines for over 100 years, so I suppose my partner Tim Hubbard and I could hardly call ourselves pioneers because we had guidance from Dr. Konstantin Frank. Yet we’ve often felt that way since Markko Vineyard’s beginnings in 1968.
Getting Markko off the ground meant turning my back on a 17 year career as an industrial engineer. Somehow transforming myself from a desk-bound paper-pusher into a living breathing dirty fingernail farmer.
But the real pioneering came with the vines themselves. Because Markko Vineyard represented one of the first serious attempts by an Ohio winemaker to grow European Vinifera grapes on the shores of Lake Erie. Other winemakers had had some success with the hardier French-American hybrid grapes. But now, we were setting out to pour heart and soul into two of the world’s great Vinifera-Chardonnay and Riesling varietals.
Our Chardonnay and Riesling wines can hold up their heads proudly in the company of America’s finest white wines. They’re recognized and acclaimed for their fine varietal character by some of the country’s leading wine experts.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, is coming into its own as well. Blended with Chamborcin, Cabernet Frank, and Merlot, our Cabernet is a hearty-mouth-filling red wine.
We’re enormously proud of every one of these wines. They are perhaps our greatest satisfactions, but not our most fundamental. For this venture that has been Markko Vineyard has enriched our lives in other unexpected ways.
It has, for example, given all of us the satisfaction of working together in the vineyard.
It has given each of us the satisfaction of participating in a tradition almost as old as mankind itself – the making of wine, the blood of life.
But most important of all, it has given us renewed faith in the Lord and our purpose for living-meaningful work producing a food, the beverage of moderation.
And thus each year, as we prune the vines, care for them, and watch the grapes turn into wine, we are thankful for the wondrous workings of God’s world. We are especially grateful to all of you, our customers, for your support as we have grown up. We could not have done it alone.“