A Vineyard in Greece

Most people in Greece associate the surname Fetzner with the making and repairing of means of transportation. First with a carriage and blacksmith shop and then as the “fuel” changed from hay for horse-powered carriages to gas, the family moved on to selling and/or repairing cars.

A horse drawn carriage outside a building

Drawing by William Aeberli
J.P. Fetzners’ brothers John and Frank owned and operated the J & F Fetzner Carriage Makers, Blacksmithing and Painting on Ridge Road in Greece. Frank’s blacksmith Shop was in the small building, and John’s carriage-making building was the larger.
Drawing by William Aeberli
A person with a mustache

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Joseph Peter “J.P”. Fetzner, 1901
Courtesy Lever/Henricus Family

Patriarch Frank Fetzner arrived in the United States in the mid to late 1840s from Untergrombach, Bruschal, Baden, Germany (18km or 11 miles east of the Rhine River). He married Catherine Mura, together they had eight children and resided on a farm in Greece with a blacksmith shop as one of their outbuildings. The driveway to their farm later became Fetzner Road. Sons John and Frank were the well-known carriage makers and blacksmiths whose enterprise was on the Ridge Road. Another son, Joseph Peter (1856-1909), better known in business as J.P., became a maker of wine, liquors, cider and vinegar.

Perhaps making moonshine in the still on his father’s farm, gave J.P. the idea to establish his way in the liquor business. In 1878, J.P. planted grapes for a fledgling vineyard on Long Pond Road, just north of Mill Road. He married Mary Hutte the following year. The Long Pond vineyard thrived and grew, buildings and operations expanded over time, including a storehouse, winery, mill, brandy distillery plant, and a house. There was an additional cider mill on Ridge Road. By 1881, he had founded the Rochester Liquor & Distilling Company in the city of Rochester. As growth continued, in 1899, the name changed to the Lake Ontario Wine Company and the venture went public. The company produced wine, champagne (American Eagle brand), and brandies. It was a very successful family operation with its offices and distillery then based in Rochester. The cider mill, vineyards, winery, wine cellars and woodland (to make the vineyard stakes) were in Greece.

A close-up of a map

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J.P. Fetzner Vineyard and Cider Mill location on Long Pond Road, just north of Mill Road on this (1905 Greece Map)
A couple of men in a field

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J.P. Fetzner and worker at Vineyard on Long Pond Road. History of the Brewery and Liquor Business of Rochester, N.Y., Kearse

At the business peak around the year 1900, it was very much a family affair. J.P. was president and treasurer; brother-in-law William Hutte was vice-president; brother Wendell Fetzner helped for a few years with carting; son-in-law brewer, William Kipp (married daughter Minnie), was secretary; and son Arthur Fetzner was a foreman. The company appeared to be highly successful, paying excellent dividends to their stockholders and allowing the family to live prosperously. Unfortunately, J.P. got pulmonary tuberculosis, and then died suddenly in 1909. With his passing, things quickly fell apart. J.P. had sold most of his personal land to the company as well as used personal funds to establish it. During probate, it was discovered that the stock shares were worthless. The family members involved in the business, as well as J.P.’s second wife, Josephine Neidert, and his children from both marriages, had to take other paths in life.

A large brown jug on a wood surface

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A close up of a vase

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J.P. Fetzner wine jugs. The jugs were made by Jacob Fisher’s pottery business in Lyons, Wayne County, New York. To ensure a return for refill, vendors put their business name on the jugs.

Courtesy Bill Sauers and Jane Oakes, respectively

A brown jug with a handle

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This is just a portion of the Fetzner Family, you can read more about the Fetzner family in the Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece, Volume 1, by Marie Poinan and JoAnn Ward Synder.

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Jo Ann Ward Snyder
Jo Ann Ward Synder
Greece Historical Society volunteer. Researcher, genealogist, and retired nurse. Author of Pioneer Families of Greece, New York.