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posted: 7/5/2015 6:00 AM

Passion for wine industry leads to father-son partnership

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  • Peter Schwarzbach, at left, owns and manages Vin Chicago, which was founded by his father Bud Schwarzbach.

    Peter Schwarzbach, at left, owns and manages Vin Chicago, which was founded by his father Bud Schwarzbach.
    COURTESY OF VIN CHICAGO

  • Peter Schwarzbach, at left, owns and manages Vin Chicago, which was founded by his father Bud Schwarzbach.

    Peter Schwarzbach, at left, owns and manages Vin Chicago, which was founded by his father Bud Schwarzbach.
    COURTESY OF VIN CHICAGO

  • Tonya Brescia, from left, Mayor Ray Rogina, Manager Deana Brescia, and owner Robert Brescia at the new Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop in St. Charles.

    Tonya Brescia, from left, Mayor Ray Rogina, Manager Deana Brescia, and owner Robert Brescia at the new Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop in St. Charles.
    COURTESY OF ROCKET FIZZ SODA POP AND CANDY SHOP

  • Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, from left; Beth Reese, chief financial officer of AGL Resources and past president of Nicor Gas: Sherina E. Maye, Illinois Commerce commissioner; Shelia Hill Morgan, president of Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Illinois lieutenant governor Evelyn Sanguinetti; Ronald Pate, senior vice president of operations at Ameren; Polly Eldringhoff, chief of staff at Peoples Gas; and Bruce Hauk, CEO of Illinois American Water.

    Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, from left; Beth Reese, chief financial officer of AGL Resources and past president of Nicor Gas: Sherina E. Maye, Illinois Commerce commissioner; Shelia Hill Morgan, president of Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Illinois lieutenant governor Evelyn Sanguinetti; Ronald Pate, senior vice president of operations at Ameren; Polly Eldringhoff, chief of staff at Peoples Gas; and Bruce Hauk, CEO of Illinois American Water.
    COURTESY OF ILLINOIS UTILITIES BUSINESS DIVERSITY COUNCIL

  • Benjamin Hasan

    Benjamin Hasan

  • Kim Elam, holding the scissors, cuts the ribbon on her second ice cream store called Kimmer's Ice Cream in Wheaton.

    Kim Elam, holding the scissors, cuts the ribbon on her second ice cream store called Kimmer's Ice Cream in Wheaton.
    COURTESY OF KIMMER'S ICE CREAM

  • Umberto Davi

    Umberto Davi

  • Gregory Wasson

    Gregory Wasson

 
 

Glencoe resident Bud Schwarzbach is 80 and still pursues his passion: Wine. And he's turned that passion into a business he shares with his son.

The two love it so much, and the industry behind it, that they and the managers at their Vin Chicago stores in Barrington, Naperville, Highland Park and Chicago, taste test up to 600 wines a month.

Now, before you think they're overindulging, bear in mind that they spread the 600 among all six of them just once a month. They include their findings along with flavor notes, how it's made, what region the grapes were grown, and other details in an e-newsletter sent to customers, Bud said.

"We're looking at the quality and judging whether it is a good representation of the label," he said.

They also narrow down the list to about 120 wines that meet their criteria and whether they're able to obtain them at good prices and sell them at reasonable prices to consumers, he said. "Most of the wine stores don't do this," Bud said. "And that's what differentiates us."

After Bud graduated from the University of Illinois with a business and marketing degree in 1956, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served as a 3rd class petty officer at Pearl Harbor for about 2 years.

When he returned to Chicago, he started working for his father, who owned 12 liquor stores around the Western suburbs. The stores, named Famous at the time, dated back to the 1930s when his grandfather started them. Around 1985, the stores were renamed Wine Discount Center, Bud said.

The more Bud learned about wine, the more he liked everything about the industry. He eventually sold the liquor stores and decided to focus on selling wine. In 2013, he opened the Vin Chicago wine shops.

His focus intensified and he learned about various vintages, labels, companies and how producers create their lines. "It's more interesting than selling the same product every year," Bud said.

His son Peter, in a way, also had other plans for his career by starting out in the automotive, manufacturing and semiconductor fields for about 15 years. He also enjoyed sailing his boat from Montrose Harbor in Chicago and competing in the Chicago-to-Mackinaw and other races, he said.

"At first, I didn't think I would like to be in business with my dad, but the time was right," Peter said.

So the father and son tried working together on a six-month trial basis. That was in 2000, they said.

"I just got hooked on it," said Peter, 46. "It happened so naturally. It was month seven or eight by the time I realized the trial period was over."

They decided to keep it permanent. So Bud eventually handed over the business to his son, but still keeps his hand, and his palate, involved.

"My palate is still as good as ever," Bud said.

Rainbow of flavor

Chocolate and vanilla aren't enough for Robert Brescia. How about 85 flavors of salt water taffy? Brescia has opened his second Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop in St. Charles. The first Rocket Fizz opened about a year ago at The Glen Town Center, a former Naval Base turned upscale lifestyle center in Glenview. The shop features more than 85 flavors of salt water taffy, 3,000 types of candy, 500 varieties of bottled sodas, and hundreds of retro and gag gifts, tin signs, concert and movie posters.

Utilities aim to help

Barrington resident Anne Pramaggiore. president and CEO of ComEd, was among the top executives from power and natural gas utilities around the state who helped to form the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council. The group is designed to grow business opportunities for diverse suppliers through closer collaboration, technical development and sharing of best practices.

FastTracks

Sports medicine physician Benjamin Hasan, who has been team physician for the U.S. Soccer Federation and USA Triathlon team, is now with Northwest Community Healthcare's Medical Group in Arlington Heights. ... Kim Elam, a Batavia native, cut the ribbon on her newly opened Kimmer's Ice Cream in Wheaton. This is her second location. The first is in St. Charles.

Ryan W. Gardner, a graduate of DePaul University's College of Law, has joined Lavelle Law, Ltd. in Palatine as an associate. The firm now has 22 attorneys, including five partners. ... Umberto Davi of Willowbrook and a principal in the Western Springs Law Firm of Umberto S. Davi P.C. became s president of the Illinois State Bar Association at the organization's 139th annual meeting recently at the at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Chris Sumner just opened Mama Lee's, a new gourmet popcorn shop in Elgin. ... Joe Amato, vice president and sales manager at Home State Bank Vernon Hills Mortgage Office, ceremoniously cuts ribbon for the new office. ... Gregory D. Wasson, the former president and CEO of Deerfield-based Walgreens Boots Alliance, is a new member of the board of directors at PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Mablene Krueger of Arlington Heights is the new president of Robert Morris University. She replaces Michael P. Viollt, who has served as president for 20 years and will now serve as chancellor. ... Thomas A. Smith of Naperville has been named executive director for The Holmstad in Batavia. It is a faith-based, nonprofit continuing care retirement community operated by Covenant Retirement Communities Inc. ... William Matjasich, who is a 17-year veteran of long-term care, has been appointed as administrator of Presence McAuley Manor in Aurora.

Jorge A. Uribe, global productivity and organization transformation officer of The Procter & Gamble Co., has been appointed to the board of directors for Ingredion Inc. in Westchester. ... Ellen Hattenbach, a Deerfield native now in Skokie, is the new vice president for external relations for Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago.

•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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