Debonne Vineyards hopes worker shortage does not slow down tourism in region

Debonne owner Tony Debevc took his concerns over worker shortages to Gov. Mike DeWine.
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 9:18 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Debonne Vineyard and Winery has worked its way through the pandemic and some nasty cold, snowy weather this spring, and now this east side winery will try and navigate what is shaping up as a shortage of workers.

Tony Debevc spent a recent busy day watching over the bottling of another vintage while worrying about the possibility of having to shut the winery down for stretches.

“We already cut back an hour in the evenings we’re not open as long as we used to be,” Debevc said.

His year-round staff is full and they are working long hours, unsustainable hours.

But for now, Debevc just can’t fill in the positions around his full-time staff as he is still looking for servers and workers to take care of the grounds.

He believes some people are reluctant to come back to work because they have enjoyed being home during the pandemic and they are able to do that, he believes, due to increased unemployment benefits and stimulus payments.

“Ohioans, those that can work, and those that don’t have a medical issue need to get back to work,” Debevc said.

Debebvc was recently part of a group that met with Gov. Mike DeWine and Debevc himself asked the governor if and when the enhanced employment insurance payments would end as he believes that is keeping people out of the workforce.

The Governor made it clear he has no interest in giving people an incentive to stay home.

“What we have to examine is, we want to make sure that the government is not doing anything that makes it better for people to stay home, than to work,” the Governor said in response to Debevc’s question.

Debevc came away from his meeting with the governor hopeful, but he wonders about the near future as he has been forced to cut back on entertainment at the winery.

“So that’s going to hurt our business a little bit because these are good exposure PR type of events that we do,’ he said.

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