Filed Under Environment

Vineyards of Chateau Hough

The Hough neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side faced tough times over several decades, especially after the Hough Riots in 1966. Many homes had boarded or broken windows, empty lots abounded, and debris cluttered the streets. The condition of Hough left the neighborhood vulnerable to violence, crime, and foreclosures. With the future of Hough in question, one man hoped to make a difference.

After serving prison time in the late 1990s, Cleveland native Mansfield Frazier re-evaluated his life choices, and wanted to give back to his hometown. Frazier created a non-profit, Neighborhood Solutions, Inc., and used his own money to form Chateau Hough in 2010. Located at the corner of East 66th and Hough Avenue, Chateau Hough occupies three former empty lots, now housing grape vineyards. One contributor to Chateau Hough was ReImagining Cleveland, a grant program that has provided funding for over 50 environmental projects located on vacant lots across the city. The community program, initiated by the predecessor to Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, was dedicated to reusing vacant lots for the community’s benefit. The program worked with the city to award Chateau Hough $15,000.

In order to be a part of the urban pioneer movement, Frazier took up residence across the street from the nascent vineyards. Frazier believed that Chateau Hough would help re-establish the black middle class. Chateau Hough’s main objective is to prevent at-risk youth from entering the criminal system, in what is called “pre-entry,” by giving them something to do after school. Former inmates and war veterans also serve as volunteers, working and pruning over 200 vines.

Along with its role in trying to address the conditions that often lead to incarceration, Chateau Hough’s main selling point is the abundance of grapes produced to make wine. Working with volunteers from the community, the vacant lots were first cleared of debris. Then, the grapevines were planted, along with stakes and wires for their support.

The vineyards grow two distinct kinds of grapes, which can survive the cold winters in Cleveland. These grapes are called the Traminette and Frontenac. Chateau Hough’s website offers descriptions of these grapes, including what type of flavor both produce. These grapes have so far made seven varied, contemporary wines. The success of the wines is evident; Chateau Hough won second place in the Great Geauga County Fair in 2014, and made news in both the New York Times Sunday magazine and Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine. The vineyard also grows shiitake mushrooms and strawberries. Chateau Hough is able to grow all this produce year-round despite Cleveland’s harsh winters by using what is called a biocellar.

According to biologist Jean Loria, biocellars are repurposed basements of old, abandoned homes that are remodeled into greenhouses. Chateau Hough began using biocellars in 2014, allowing produce to be grown during the colder seasons. Frazier and Loria worked together by using this technological advancement. The idea was to bring the neighborhood back into a positive light and generate more revenue.

In 2018, Neighborhood Solutions Inc. obtained a permit to sell the wines made at Chateau Hough. Although Mansfield Frazier died on October 9, 2021, at the age of 78, Chateau Hough remains a community anchor, offering wine tastings and other events and continuing to seek ways to honor Frazier's vision of mentoring at-risk youth and people returning after incarceration.

Audio

Urban Farming in Hough Mansfield Frazier explains why urban farming makes sense in neighborhoods like Hough Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
"When I Leave Hough, I'm Going to Heaven" Mansfield Frazier talks about the recent efforts to rebuild and reinvigorate the Hough neighborhood. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Chateau Hough, Nov. 2010
Chateau Hough, Nov. 2010 The verdure of grape vines brings a sense of renewal in a neighborhood that continues to rebound after decades of decline. Creator: Helen Liggett Date: 2010
Before: A Vacant Lot
Before: A Vacant Lot The vacant lot that became the Vineyard at Chateau Hough is shown in March 2010 Creator: Helen Liggett Date: 2010
Mansfield Frazier at Chateau Hough
Mansfield Frazier at Chateau Hough Mansfield Frazier (left) holds up a bare root grape vine while directing work at Chateau Hough in May 2010. Creator: Helen Liggett
Taking Shape
Taking Shape Grapevines begin to grow at Chateau Hough in July 2010 Creator: Greta De Meyer Date: 2010
Vineyard, Sept. 2010
Vineyard, Sept. 2010 Creator: Greta De Meyer Date: 2010

Location

1650 E 66th St, Cleveland, OH 44103

Metadata

Michael Rotman and Katherine Gerchak, “Vineyards of Chateau Hough,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 27, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/148.