Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Maryland Wine Pioneer Bob Ziem Passes Away


I did not know Bob Ziem prsonally, but that was not to say he was not important to me or to eastern viticultural. Who am I but some simple minded blogger? Bob Ziem did things. He went against the grain his whole wine life, and all of us, NY, NJ, MD, VA, etc., were all the richer for it. He was a champion of hybrids and other cutting edge viticultural practices. He helped solidify a fledgling wine industry in the east. He was an important man. His winery is no longer there. But his accomplishments cannot be denied.

To quote the Herald-Mail (MD): He received a bachelor's degree from St. Louis University, his master's degree at Kansas State and did his doctorate work at Tulane University.

He worked for NASA as director of solid propulsion for the Apollo Moon missions, worked at the Pentagon and was in charge of all surface vehicles for the DDRE. He retired from the Department of the Navy and moved in 1971 to Downsville, where he owned and operated Ziem Vineyards & Winery with his wife, Ruth.

That is a man. That is a life time.

From Kevin Atticks: In Memoriam—Bob Ziem
The Maryland wine industry recently lost one of its founding members, Bob Ziem of Ziem Vineyards and Winery. Bob Ziem and his wife, Ruth, were pioneers in the industry—opening his winery when only five existed. Ziem grew all of the grapes —all native and hybrid varieties—for the winery, and championed lesser-known varieties like Landot Noir.

“He was adamant about red wine, stating that “all wine would be red if it could,’” says Carol Wilson of Elk Run Vineyards.

“He tried to help everyone and was very pleasant to deal with,” says Al Copp of Woodhall Wine Cellars

Ruth was always by his side in the wine and grape venture, and still attends many Maryland wine events as an industry enthusiast.

Ziem was a U.S. Army Veteran and had a long government career. He was director of solid propulsion at NASA where he worked on the Apollo Moon missions, worked at the Pentagon and for the Department of the Navy prior to starting the winery in 1971.

Ziem was 85; he died at home in Fairplay, Maryland on January 25, and is survived by his wife, Ruth, daughter Karen, sons Kurt and Eric, and brother, James.