Award-winning winemaker hired for future development of wine program


winemaker family portrait

Samantha Ickes

After working as a high school chemistry teacher for seven years, Edward Trebets needed a change. When Debonne Vineyards asked Trebets to accept a position as a winemaker, he took his chemistry skills and explored the pH bases and acids involved in winemaking.

“At that point in my life, I was looking for a change,” said Trebets, a full-time faculty for the viticulture and enology degrees. “I had several years of teaching — you get burnt out as a teacher after a while, especially as a high school teacher.”

Over the course of 12 years, Trebets crafted his technique as he made wine for three different wineries. When he left his job at Debonne Vineyards, Trebets found another opportunity when Kent State’s Ashtabula campus offered him a job as head of development for the wine degree programs.

Through its membership with Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance, also known as VESTA, Kent State’s Ashtabula campus offers two associate degree programs for students in viticulture (grape growing) and enology (winemaking).

In August, Kent State announced Trebets’ hire to lead the future development of the degrees in the wine program, which was developed in 2011.

“I think (I was offered the position) because I have industry experience and I’ve made quite a good amount of wine,” Trebets said. “That is something I can share with the students. There’s a lot of, as I call them, ‘tricks of trade’ that I learned as a seasoned and veteran winemaker that could help (students) in their career.”

Trebets received more than 950 medals during his tenure as a winemaker, with 200 gold and double gold and numerous silver and bronze awards.

“He brings over a decade of industry experience and his engaging energy to our hybrid courses,” said Danielle Weiser-Cline, academic adviser for the wine program. “He is truly considered a leader in the Ohio wine industry, and our students will be able to benefit in many ways by working with him.”

Trebets has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in teaching on top of his 12 years of experience in the wine industry.

“He is eager to share his knowledge and to connect our students to other leaders in the industry with whom they can do their field experience work,” Weiser-Cline said.

In 2010, Trebets and his wife, Gina, explored making their own wine label, which they named Muddy Paw Wines. The wine label sells two types of wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon. The name of the wine was inspired by the muddy paw prints left behind by Trebets’ dogs, Paisley and Trigger.


Trigger was adopted from an animal shelter, and the couple decided to give back with their wine label by donating a portion of the proceeds to Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village.

According to Trebets, winemaking is 95 percent chemistry, and his background allows him to teach students the fundamentals of chemistry to help them in their winemaking studies.

“It’s a very interesting process, but it’s never the same because the grapes and the juices are different every year, so it makes it a challenge to make the wine,” Trebets said. “It’s always exciting when you finally get to the end product and you get to drink it. You get to see, as they call it, the fruits of your labor.”

In the future, Trebets would like to see a working winery available on or near campus for students to use. Though establishing a working winery is his ultimate goal, how or where the winery will be established is still being worked out.

“Winemaking and viticulture are such a hands-on education that if the university had a winery it would make the program even stronger,” he said. “It would allow the students to not only get their classroom education, but the winery would also be their hands-on education, which is so important.”

Contact Samantha Ickes at [email protected].