PARAMOUNT DISTILLERS, INC. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
PARAMOUNT DISTILLERS, INC., Cleveland's only distillery, produces cocoa and coffee essences for cordials, vodka, gin, and a number of blends. Privately held, the company was established in 1934 soon after the repeal of Prohibition by Jacob F. Moessmer. Moessmer, who also established Federal Fruit Prods. (now Federal Flavors, Inc.), a manufacturer of flavoring extracts, in 1919, opened Paramount's first distillery on W. 106th St. In the first few years, Paramount's product line included cordials and vodka, which the company sold in Ohio and Iowa. In 1946, the company moved to a new building at 3116 Berea Rd. in Cleveland, which still serves as Paramount's corporate headquarters. In 1957, Robert. G. Gottesman and his partner Lewis L. Zelle purchased Paramount and Federal Flavors. At the time of the sale, Paramount was still a relatively small company with markets in Ohio and Iowa. Under Gottesman and Zelle's leadership, Paramount underwent an ambitious expansion program in the 1960s, which enlarged its physical plant, product lines, and markets. As a result, Paramount bottled its own brand of domestic and imported liquors and blended its own flavors to make cordials and flavored brandies. The company's products grew to include blended and bourbon whiskey, Scotch, gin, vodka, tequila, rum, and cocktails, which it marketed primarily in the East and Midwest. In 1976, Paramount expanded into wine production with the purchase of Cincinnati's Meier's Wine Cellars and the winery's 300-acre vineyard on North Bass Island in Lake Erie. In time, Paramount purchased additional wineries.
Gottesman headed the company after Lewis Zelle's death in, serving as chief executive officer and ultimately chairman of the firm until his death in 2000. With approximately 200 employees, the company's subsidiaries include Paramount Brands, Inc., a wholesale liquor dealer in Port Chester, NY; Meier's Wine Cellars, Inc., in Silverton, OH, the state's largest winery; and Firelands Wine Co-op, Mon Ami Winery, and Lonz Winery, three regional wineries whose products are sold primarily in Ohio. Paramount Distillers, still headquartered at 3116 Berea Rd, bottled and shipped more than a million cases of liquor and liqueurs annually by 2004.