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Member Spotlight: Heidelberg Distributing

Feb 26, 2014
Heidelberg Distributing…Life ROARS Through Us!

Heidelberg Distributing’s founder, Albert Vontz, was only 22 years old when he arrived in Cincinnati in 1907, determined to make his American dream come true. A trained brewer, Vontz invested in two local taverns that did well until Prohibition turned the country dry in 1919.

In 1938, Vontz invested in the Dayton delivery branch of the Heidelberg Brewery based out of Covington, Kentucky. The brewery was known for its popular Student Prince and Heirloom beers. Vontz named his operation Heidelberg Distributing Company and kept the name even after the brewery was sold and the brands were discontinued in 1946.

Albert’s son, Albert Vontz, Jr., joined the business in 1947 after returning home from World War II as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. With a degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati, he began seeking opportunities to expanding Heidelberg. The company handled other beers, including Pfeiffer and Goebel, but it was wine sales that kept the business going during the post-war years.

Heidelberg’s big break-through came in 1959 when it purchased the Cincinnati branch of Anheuser-Busch beer. August Busch, Jr. had estimated the distributorship’s value at $54,000, but he was so impressed by Vontz’s determination to make Budweiser a success in Cincinnati that he sold the distributorship for $25,000. The company helped to grow the Anheuser-Busch brands from a low market share in the early 1960’s to a 46% share of the Cincinnati market and 3.8 million cases sold in 2013. 

Why is Heidelberg a DCI member? The answer is simple according to Co-Chairman Al Vontz, III. “If businesses are strong and downtown is vibrant – bars, restaurants, conventions, hotels, sporting venues – then our business is good too,” said Vontz.  “We support and are members of DCI because of its work in strengthening the core of the Cincinnati region.” 

The company has partnered with numerous not-for-profit organizations to initiate and produce some of Ohio’s finest wine and beer events. One such event is the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. Founded in 1990, by Heidelberg’s then-President Russ Wiles, Heidelberg has been a guiding force in shaping the Festival’s success as the premier wine event in the Midwest.  This year’s festival’s “Grand Tastings” are March 7th and 8th at the Duke Energy Center. 

Heidelberg Distributing has grown from “one man – one truck” in 1938 to more than 1,600 Associates in nine locations in Ohio and Kentucky.  Today the company delivers some 13,500 different products to more than 26,000 retailers. For more information on Heidelberg Distributing visit us online at

Heidelberg’s 8-acre office and warehouse campus is located in Queensgate just off I-75 near downtown.  

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