The state’s only wine degree programs, offered by Kent State University at Ashtabula, has hired Edward Trebets to lead the future development of the degrees and serve as a full-time faculty member in the two associate degree programs. Trebets is an award-winning winemaker most recently of Debonné Vineyards and Grand River Cellars in Madison, Ohio. In his tenure as winemaker, he was awarded over 950 medals: 200 gold and double gold, numerous silver and bronze medals, and 14 Best of Show for his wines in competitions ranging from the Great Lakes Wine Competition and the Finger Lakes International to the Florida State Fair and the Los Angeles County Fair. Trebets was also the winemaker for Debonné’s 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine that won the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition for best dessert wine.
Established in 2011 to serve the wineries and vineyards of Ohio, Kent State Ashtabula’s program has continued to grow. Graduates have gone on to work as winemakers in Northeast Ohio wineries or to open their own winery or vineyard. Over the next few years, Trebets says he hopes to expand the program with the addition of a true working winery to serve as a classroom for students.
“With a state-wide program, it’s very important to us to recruit some of the nation’s best winemakers to teach students in the program. We want Ohio wineries to be competitive on a national level, and offering the area’s future winemakers the best possible education helps ensure that,” said Dr. Susan Stocker, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer for Kent State Ashtabula.
Holding a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a Master’s degree in education, and having over 12 years in the wine industry puts Trebets in a great place to start passing on his specialized knowledge to future wine industry professionals. “Ed’s background and experience is so valuable for our students’ educations. We want them to learn from the best in the industry and instructors who have been successful in the field and cellar. Ed really embodies that, and we’re very happy to have him join the program,” said program academic advisor Danielle Weiser-Cline.
With past teaching experience, Trebets believes that offering students the opportunity for personal experience has great value in teaching winemaking. “Winemaking is a very hands-on educational experience. You can only become good at it if you are completely involved in the process. My goal is to give students a good classroom experience but also to allow them to experience the craft at a hands-on level,” said Trebets. With the Ashtabula program’s hybrid format, students will attend classes online and come to campus for in-person experiences twice a semester. The largely online format was introduced just over a year ago and has made the program much more accessible to students across the state.
Ed and his wife Gina have been married since 2007 and reside in Chesterland, Ohio with their son Jaxson. Ed and Gina have their own brand called Muddy Paw Wines where they give a dollar per bottle back to the Geauga County Humane Society’s Rescue Village. In his spare time, Ed enjoys fishing, hunting, and spending time with his family.
Established in 2011, the Kent State Ashtabula wine degree programs award associate degrees in enology and viticulture. For more information, visit www.kent.edu/Ashtabula/wine.