Al, born in 1932, grew up in Bridgeport, Ohio, a steel mill, coal mine hamlet across the Ohio River from Wheeling, West Virginia. The village was nicknamed “Beerport” because West Virginia was a dry state both before and after Prohibition and Wheeling residents came across the Ohio River to drink and carouse in Beerport. Seeing no future in his town, Al hitchhiked out at age 19 with $42 in his pocket. The Korean War was then raging.
After jobs in a steel mill and a tire factory, Al joined the US Navy, which eventually sent him to Long Beach, California. After his honorable discharge, he began college and earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College) in 1957. He continued his education at Harvard Business School where he earned his Masters of Business Administration. His education was paid for by working nights, weekends and being awarded some scholarships.
After Harvard, he made his way to Los Angeles and joined E.F Hutton & Co. as the executive assistant to the managing partner, eventually segueing into investment banking. In 1970 he founded his own investment banking firm, specializing in raising money for young, growing businesses. Doing this work enabled him to see and learn the hazards of starting a new business.
In 1971 Al’s firm was retained by E.F. Hutton to analyze the tax shelter virtues and potential profits of individuals planting wine grape vineyards in California. The resulting conclusions and business plan led Al to form the first of several limited partnerships which bought land and planted vineyards in Monterey County. While time has proven this move to be prescient, back then it was a bold move since winegrowing in Monterey was in its infancy. The first vineyards were planted in the spring of 1972. About twenty years later in a series of transactions, Al bought out all of the outside partners and renamed the company, solidifying Scheid Family Wines as a multi-generational family business.
A natural entertainer and storyteller, Al is known for his quotes that friends and family affectionately term “Al-isms.” He calls himself the luckiest man he’s ever met, and says that he has lived an unplanned, but eventful life.
Along the way, Al has assisted in raising his four children, had a successful business career, and written a memoir called Breaking Out of Beerport, which covers the ten-year adventure he experienced in his struggle to obtain a first class education. He also carded a 175-yard, hole-in-one on the 17th hole at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California in 2001 – another bit of unexpected luck.