BY D’ARCY EGAN
The new Gideon Owen Wine Company on the Catawba Peninsula is taking a major step back in time, replacing the iconic Mon Ami Restaurant with an even deeper historical past, and a more modern look and feel created with hardwood and stone.
While Mon Ami has not been a winery for many years, it had become one of the premier eateries in the area. When Donna and Quintin purchased the restaurant and grounds nine months ago, few could see what was coming for the sprawling facility.
“Mon Ami had been a restaurant and wine shop, but we could see it being much, much more to the community,” said Quintin Smith. “We felt it could be a wonderful place for people to get together, entertain, have something wonderful to eat and enjoy a variety of our ‘house of brands,’ depending on their mood.”
Those brands are already under construction. The building is being redesigned to create Tirage Wine Bar and French Market, which will serve a variety of wines and the typical foods found in a French Market, including grab-and-go items, home-made breads, and the amazing meats and cheese one would find at a Paris charcuterie shop.
Tirage, which will also operate as a lounge and bar, is projected to open late Spring or early Summer of this year.
Those seeking a full service menu can dine in The Chalet Restaurant, and enjoy a more intimate experience than the former Mon Ami restaurant space. The Gideon Owen Winery will be the newest and most exciting addition to the property, as the Smiths begin to create their own vineyards both around the Gideon Owen Winery and elsewhere on the Catawba Peninsula.
“We love the history that we’ve discovered here, a reason for the name. Gideon Owen founded Catawba Island’s second winery, and we only recently discovered that we own land which holds 10 out of the 30 original acres of that historic vineyard on the northern end of Catawba,” said Smith.
The Smiths plan to utilize all of the main building in the future, including the spacious, century-old original vaulted wine cellars below what is now the restaurant. The vineyards yet to be planted — both on the grounds and around the Catawba Peninsula — and the renovated wine cellars will rival California’s Napa Valley, north of San Francisco, a place where vineyards, sparkling wine and high end restaurants draw a legion of tourists and wine connoisseurs.
Grapes have not been grown on the Catawba Peninsula for many years, and the vast vineyards on the Lake Erie Islands are almost all gone, too, after prohibition shuttered the doors of almost all of the wineries in the area.
“Catawba and the Islands have the soil and the potential to be one of the best producing regions in the country. It’s our responsibility to help make that a reality,” said Smith.
The plan is to bring the vineyards and apricot, peach and other orchards back to their prominence of long ago, relying on the amazing climate of the Lake Erie shoreline and Catawba Peninsula that embraces those crops.
A Letter From the Owners
Dear Community Members,
As you may know, Donna and I took ownership of Mon Ami in June of 2019. Our decision to purchase the business stemmed from our love of the historic building, cellars, and the beautiful surrounding property. We also had concerns that another buyer would choose to commercially develop the surrounding property which in our opinion would destroy the historical nature of the land.
We have sought out and discovered many of the historical truths of this facility. An interesting fact is that the original group of fruit growers who banded together to create this national treasure, named the entity “Catawba Island’s Wine Company”. In other words, they had the wisdom to view their magnificent creation as the community’s wine company, not just theirs. It is this knowledge that has guided our efforts to restore the facility and grounds into something which will be a point of pride for the community.
It was always our intention to create our own wine label called Gideon Owen in honor of the founder of Catawba Island’s 2nd winery. We were drawn to this Historic name over 10 years ago, but only recently discovered that we own the center 10 acres of Gideon’s original 30-acre vineyard and homestead. We sense more than a simple coincidence here.
Our goals are ambitious but simple:
- Establish the first commercial vineyard with wine production on Catawba Island in over 100 years! Thereby taking Catawba Island back to its roots as one of the world’s great wine growing regions.
- Expose and showcase one of America’s lost artifacts once again to the public — the European-inspired vaulted wine cellars. These wine cellars are second to none in the entire country, and our ancestors deserve recognition for their work.
- Create a campus environment where our local community and guests can immerse themselves in Catawba Island’s history and its agricultural beauty.
- Help preserve Catawba Islands agricultural green space for our descendants.
While implementing these changes, we realized that we were creating something that was distinctively different from the present-day Mon Ami. It is with that belief that we have decided to Rebrand the Mon Ami Historic Restaurant and Winery into Gideon Owen Wine Company. Gideon Owen Wine Company will be composed of several brands — Tirage Wine Bar and French Market, The Chalet Restaurant, and The Gideon Owen Winery.
We are confident in our vision but, as with all journeys, hardships will be found along the way. We will need help and support from our community and guests, and we invite all of you to come see our roots. This is the story of a second chance.
And now, the journey begins.
Quintin and Donna Smith
What a fantastic and fresh ideal you have. I can’t wait to see the finish rooms. I’m sure the excitement will spread among the locals and the regulars who have summer homes in the area as well as the many boaters that come from all over. I wish you the best in your endeavor and look forward to visiting when my wife and myself return from Florida.
We are looking forward to enjoying the results of your effort.
Hopefully a wonderful venue, great food and good wine.
We wish you the best Andy look forward to your success!
We congratulate your new adventure! But we love the concord Mon Ami wine. Are you still going to produce it?
I’m really excited that the new owners are into preserving the history and beautiful landscape of the winery!!! I have enjoyed the restaurant since the early 60s as a young boy boating with my parents and can’t wait to come and enjoy the great food and wine !!
Please have Colin Dussualt’s Blues Band on Memorial Day and Labor Day! Our annual tradition!
My wife and I visited June 9 2020 for our 19 years of marriage. Impressed with the staff, wine and food menu. We will still continue to visit. Enjoyed ourselves and the new vision that you are invisioning. Continue success and want to compliment both of you on what you have done so far. Thank you
I agree with Fran. It has been said you were no longer going to have entertainment. If this is true, it is so sad because this was the greatest place to be with the outdoor patio and entertainment.
Mike and I are very excited for you! We hope this venture is a great success. We know the North Coast is excited to see how it turns out and to patronize all of the establishments on the property!
Cheers! Here’s to a successful Gideon Owen future on Catawba Island!
The Daughters of the British Empire, held our Ohio Annual Council Meeting at your facility today. It was a perfect setting as women from Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, oak Harbor,etc enjoyed a wonderful luncheon and meeting. All attendees were thrilled with the venue. Your staff was fantastic in accommodating our needs, and completely lovely personalities. We very much enjoyed a glass of wine after. We look forward to future events here.
Mon Ami white Catawba has feel a favorite wine to me for years. I hope you will continue to produce this remarkable wine.
I agree that no entertainment will not attract many for very long. Once you have seen it, you have seen it. We will miss all the entertainment and our favorite British Invasion.
What happened to Eddie and the Edsels???? They performed for years and always a great evening Will miss this after many years!!!!!!
We received a gift card for Mon Ami for Christmas. Will that be accepted by you still when you open the restaurant? Looking
Good luck on your new venture! We are fond of Mon Ami Concord Wine. Hoping you keep the recipe and continue it with your own label. Any chance of doing that or do we stockpile it until it’s gone?
I also have several gift cards from Mon Ami ( from Christmas). Will I be able to use these at Gideon’s?
We came for a good lunch, but a bigger experience was relaxing outside listening to the great bands that played there!!
Hello Quintan and Donna!!
A couple of days ago I went to visit the webpage of Mon Ami to confirm their hours of operation. My plan was to fly my wife and I to Pt. Clinton this weekend for dinner. Aghast!! So disappointed to learn of their permanent closing. However, so thrilled and excited to find the two of you are going to make an even larger impact with Gideon Owen Wine Company!!
We usually visit the restaurant over the course of the summer an average of two or three times. We sometimes don’t come alone, as one or two other aircraft may join us for the flight from Sidney to Pt. Clinton. In years past, MonAmi would always send a staff member to take us to the restaurant and return us to the airport. The arrangement worked out well, as we made sure the staff member was tipped. Hopefully, if feasible, the tradition will continue.
Congratulations, and the very best wishes for a successful historic launch!!
Anxiously awaiting your opening!
Dale and Jane Peterson
I hope the Sunday afternoon outdoor entertainment will continue with a lunch menu ( of a few years ago ) starting
around 1:00 pm . We enjoyed a relaxing Sunday 3 – 4 times a year .
I hope you will keep the american rose it is my absolute favorite anyway welcome new owmers
My wife Sheryl and I were there on Friday March 13th 2021 with Pete and Lisa Spieldener. We were fortunate to see Quentin and his lovely wife on the way I and out. Our meal was unbelievably good and the entire atmosphere inside is outstanding. It was our first visit in the post covid world however it is just the beginning of a place we plan to return to again and again.
Jim and Sheryl Finken.
Love…love…love all you have done and your vision for the future of this historic place!! I’ve enjoyed many years of Mon Ami and look forward to many years of frequenting Gideon Owen and all it has to offer!! Thank you Quintin and Donna!!
We have been regular Mon Ami patrons from Toledo since the 1990’s, under several owners. So pleased to learn it will remain under local ownership and excited about the new plan. While returning the winery to its roots, we hope the new owners will retain a commitment to vinifera wines, in addition to American varietals, as well as providing entertainment. We want to keep coming!
Love your Lake Erie Pink Catawba, where can I buy this wine in the Springfield, Ohio area? Can you please provide some info. Thanks!
Do you have a distributor in Georgia? I own a wine and spirits store in Louisville, GA and would like to get some of your products, specifically the Dolci Note Rose’.
Thank you in advance,