Cleveland, We Have a Winner!

CLE Urban Winery founder Destiny Burns wins ‘Legacy’ Award from Les Dames d’Escoffier International

By Elaine Cicora

Members of the Cleveland chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International couldn’t be more proud of Destiny Burns, who earlier this spring was chosen as the 2020 winner of the Wine & Hospitality Award – one of six Legacy Awards given out annually by the parent organization.

A native Clevelander, Destiny was one of 53 international candidates vying for the prestigious awards, which provide targeted mentorship opportunities for professional women in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality industries.

Destiny is the founder and owner of CLE Urban Winery in Cleveland Heights. Her mentorship will be provided by Wente Family Estates in Livermore Valley, California, the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the country. During her time with Wente, Destiny will enjoy in-depth mentoring by Dame Amy Hoopes, president; Dame Carolyn Wente, fourth generation winegrower and CEO; and Karl Wente, fifth generation winemaker and COO, learning about Wente Vineyards viticulture, winemaking, and wine and food pairing philosophies. She will also learn about the winery’s national branding strategies and marketing plans, and have an opportunity to tour and taste at other award-winning wineries around the Livermore Valley.

Cleveland Dame Shara Bohach has served on the Legacy Awards committee for 5 years – two years as chair – and helped review the applications. “Destiny embodies so many ideals of LDEI’s Legacy Awards, and is the perfect recipient of the wine award at Wente. Her drive to further her wine education, her generosity and support of her local community, her unique venture creating a winery that celebrates Cleveland and creates community, her history of service to others… These are all hallmarks of what we look for in a candidate.”

It’s been a long road to winemaking for this retired Navy officer and Russian linguist, who went on to work for 13 years as a development executive for large defense companies in Washington, D.C. But with her adult daughter launched and her own 50th birthday behind her, Destiny determined to move back to Cleveland and chart a new course. Her dream? A welcoming space for her neighbors to gather and learn about wine in a relaxed setting. In 2016, that dream blossomed into CLE Urban Winery on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

The winery sources its grapes from around the country, freeing Destiny from the need to own a vineyard. Offerings include reds, whites, and fruit-infused wines – all brandishing labels that celebrate such local landmarks as Playhouse Square, Murray Hill, and Lake Erie.

But beyond just making wine, Destiny had another goal: building a sense of community, similar to what she had observed in Cleveland’s small craft-beer breweries.

Cleveland Dame and food stylist/recipe developer Melissa McClelland, a Cleveland Heights resident, nominated Destiny for the award, after being deeply moved by how quickly the winery grew into a neighborhood hub. “Cleveland Heights is an extraordinarily diverse place, but there are not many spots where a wide range of people come together and feel welcome,” Melissa notes. “But with the winery’s garage doors flung up and live music pouring out into the street, CLE Urban Winery quickly became a place for the entire neighborhood to check out. Destiny saw her business as a way to improve her city and bring us all together in a truly tasty way.”

As for Destiny, she says she is delighted with the opportunity the award provides. “For me, as a relative newcomer, to get to work with a multi-generational winery like Wente – and bring that learning back to Cleveland – is an absolute godsend, especially in these crazy times. I had no expectation whatsoever I would win the award, but I am absolutely thrilled! Personally and professionally, I think this will be a game changer.”

Please join all of us in congratulating Destiny on her accomplishment!