K. Dilworth, Esq., President and Majority Owner of
Le Clos Thérèse, Las Côtes, and the Comtesse Thérèse Bistro
Attorney Theresa ("Tree") Dilworth's a former international tax attorney who worked for Pfizer and Mastercard, lives in Mattituck and Manhattan. She is a native New Yorker and fourth-generation
Long Islander, from Lloyd Harbor on Long Island's North
2000, along with two Japanese business partners, she
acquired 40 acres of farmland in Aquebogue. Several years later, 25 acres was sold off to the neighbors, the McKays (pumpkin and flower farmers), leaving a 15 acre parcel where the original vineyard, Le Clos Thérèse, planted in 2001, is located. Although a lifelong gardener, she had no prior experience with farming on a commercial scale. Initially the vineyard had no grapevines, posts, water, electricity, irrigation, buildings,
tractors or any other equipment. A home wine, beer, and cheesemaker and a good cook,
she is self-taught in commercial-scale winemaking.
In 2002, Theresa and her father acquired a 27 acre adjacent vineyard property, Las Côtes, and in 2004 she and her husband Sammy acquired the Main Road property which would house the Comtesse Thérèse Bistro.
Vineyard Roots in Alsace
grandmother's family was in the vineyard
business near the Rhine River along the border of French and Germany, although
she did not find out until several years after she
started the vineyard. "My father said his mother's family were originally from Alsace, but we didn't know they were in the vineyard business."
In 2005, her father's cousin found and transcribed part of a travel diary
from her great-grandfather Edward, from 1923, describing a visit back to Alsace, where relatives were still living on a vineyard. It was 40 miles from Ludwigshafen, and not far from Strasbourg and Mannheim. The diary describes a short visit with a 91-year old aunt, and some other relatives, one of whom was called Peter Wolf, "& they made us drink a bottle of wine."
The diary describes the trip back to Ludwigshafen as "a run of 40 miles through about 25 villages all surrounded by vineyards, a wonderful sight to see with nothing but grapes growing everywhere away up in the mountains as far as you could see." In the town of Ludwigshafen, they stayed in a hotel and ate at the Rosengarten Restaurant, which still exists today. "Each had a plate of soup, 2 bowls each, 1 whole spring chicken, fried potatoes, salad & fancy cream, all for 46 million marks or $1.50 in dollars."
The next day they headed back to Strasbourg and then to Paris by train. "Our train came on time & they only had one coach for 1st class passengers & there were enough people to go to fill up 3 coaches. We finally got in our car & found that most of the seats were taken by French officers & we had to stand up & were forced in like sardines for 2 hours Sam & I. After a stop of 1 hour we finally got started for Strasbourg to change cars once more to get the 10:10 express for Paris which we just made by about 2 minutes and had to sit up all night until 7:15 the next morning. We arrived on time in Paris pretty well tired out & rode altogether 14 hours."
Baron Johan von Beck
Johan (John) Dillmeier von Beck, Theresa's great-great-grandfather, emigrated to America from Bavaria, Germany in 1851 at the age of 36. According to relatives from earlier generations who traveled to Europe frequently, there was a castle associated with the von Beck family (in Germany, only the nobility was allowed to have "von" in their surname.) It is believed that the ancestor with the castle could be Baron Johan von Beck, who owned a castle in Beaufort, Luxembourg as well as a second castle called Ringsheim in Eustkirchen-Schweinhheim near Nuremburg, Germany, an important military outpost during von Beck's lifetime.
Johan von Beck was a career soldier who entered the military at the age of 13 and quickly rose through the ranks to general. He served under King Philip of Spain, who at the time controlled much of what is now the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Germany. While not born into the nobility, he was "knighted" by King Philip, the first native of Luxembourg to receive that honor. He was the Governor of Luxembourg City, the governor of the County of Chiny in what is now southern Belgium, the Commander-General of the Army of Alsace, and the Constable-General of Ringsheim. He purchased a castle in Beaufort, Luxembourg for 348,000 florins, most likely using monies received from King Philip for his military service, and started extensive Renaissance-style renovations there, but died from battle wounds in 1648, at the age of 60. His son sold the castle at Beaufort a year later, and sold the castle at Ringsheim about 9 years later.
Johan, Baron von Beck 1588-1648
Beaufort Castle, Luxembourg in 1834
At a charcuterie in Chiny, Belgium, 2012
There was a real Comtesse Thérèse
- Comtesse Thérèse von Brunsvik, a piano
student of Ludvig von Beethoven. He dedicated at least
one piano sonata to her (Piano Sonata No. 24, in F sharp major, "á Thérèse"), and it is
reputed that the famous Für Elise was originally
called Für Thérèse.
Japanese Samurai and Shoguns
On her mother's side, Theresa is descended from a Japanese family which belongs to one of the "Four Noble Clans of Japan". The clan was started by the third son of the 53rd Emperor of Japan in about 800-900 A.D. The first Shogun (military dictator) of Japan, as well as most of the other Shoguns and samurai of Japan throughout the centuries, are from this clan.
Mineo "Sammy" Shimura
husband, Sammy Shimura, is from the area of Japan near
Mt. Fuji. A graduate of Waseda University in Tokyo and the Sloan School of Management at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology in Boston, where he was a Sloan Fellow, he retired from a long career as a steel industry executive
with NKK, the second-largest steel company in Japan. He served as President of NKK's U.S. subsidiary, NKK America Inc. and was also the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
of National Steel Corporation in Mishawaka, Indiana,
then the fourth-largest steel company in the US.
2004, after his retirement from the steel industry, Sammy obtained a sommelier certification from
the American Society of Sommeliers, with the highest
grade in the class. He likes to taste wines from all
over the world. He now works full-time managing the vineyard,
and calls himself "Vinedresser", an ancient
Biblical term for a person who takes care of grapevines.
Chizuko Tomita, Partner of Le Clos Thérèse
Chizuko was the catalyst
behind the creation of the original vineyard and partnership, Le Clos Thérèse. When she transferred
to E&Y New York for an eighteen month stint, she enjoyed
visiting the Long Island wine region and making homemade
wines with Theresa on the weekends, and also helped
another friend on the East Coast make barrels of wine
at his home. It was always her dream to be an owner,
or a part owner, of a vineyard, and so she raised the
idea of the partnership with Theresa.
Tomita is an international tax partner for the Tokyo office of Ernst & Young, the Big Four accounting firm. Theresa, Chizuko, and Kayomi became acquainted almost 20 years ago when they were working at Ernst & Young's New York and Tokyo offices, respectively. All three then moved on from E&Y - Chizuko went on to become the
Director of Tax for Softbank, and before that, Vodafone, in Tokyo. Chizuko returned to E&Y in 2006.
Hirota, Partner of Le Clos Thérèse
Hirota, graduate of Tokyo University and US certified
public accountant, founded Info Selection Network, a
financial advisory company in Tokyo, which also has
a New York representative office.Through
the efforts of Kayomi and Chizuko, several hundred cases of Comtesse Thérèse
wines have been exported to Japan and sold to one of the largest
department stores in Japan and in high-end restaurants
Professor David A. Dilworth, Co-owner of Las Côtes
Tree Dilworth and her father, Professor David A. Dilworth co-own a 27 acre property, called Las Côtes, adjacent to the original vineyard, Le Clos Thérèse, which they started to develop a few years after the original vineyard. Professor Dilworth, along with Theresa's mother, Mary, a watercolor artist, work in the Las Côtes vineyard about 5 days a week. The vineyard was named after its many small slopes, very unusual terrain for Long Island.
A graduate of Fordham and Columbia Universities with Ph.D.'s in both philosophy and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Dave Dilworth is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY, Stony Brook. He is the translator of several volumes of Japanese philosophy into English, the first translator of these works into a Western language. He lives in Huntington Village, and at age 76, is still actively teaching full-time as well as guest lecturing internationally. He is currently the head of the undergraduate philosophy program at Stony Brook.