Belle River Winery Committed to Autism Awareness

By Tracey Moro

It was about five years ago when Rob and Hannah Cowan started dabbling in wine making. Aft er years of going to wineries together the two mutually fell in love with visiting wineries. Once married the couple began living on a country road in Columbus with a small organic farm, plus chickens and honeybees.

Then as a blended family of six, Rob’s three boys and Hannah’s daughter, the family started to grow. It was the beginning of 2021 when they found out their then twoyear- old son Mikey had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With applied behavior analysis (ABA) bills adding up each month, Rob had an idea to take his wine making to the next level.

“We had the idea of creating a winery to pay for the additional therapy expense. I wanted something my wife could do from home just in case something ever happened to me,” said Rob Cowan. The couple opened Belle River Winery in March of 2022 on their property adjacent to their residence. With a small but beautiful building, large heated deck surrounded by woods, fruit trees, a waterfall and lots of nature, the winery is the perfect place to relax and sip on your favorite drink.

With the winery doing well, the bills were covered and that inspired the Cowans again. This time they wanted to share not only their knowledge of ASD with other parents, but they wanted to help another family who might be struggling like they once were.

After reaching out on social media they ended up sponsoring a young autistic child with a fundraiser to help get him back into ABA therapy. They are currently looking for a second family to assist. Their commitment to ASD awareness and education is inspiring so much so that their goal is to open more wineries with the end goal being to open a free autism center.

With her son finally able to say “Mom,” Hannah knows the treatments are working. “We would like to have parents with autistic children meet here monthly, turning that into a support group of sorts,” said Hannah Cowan. Each child is different, but most kids with ASD have trouble with their social skills, not being able to express themselves. The Cowans hope to be a resource for other families struggling with ASD.

Meanwhile, if you want to help in their crusade and enjoy some great wine, Belle River Winery is the place to go. There you not only enjoy wine, but also mead, brandy, rum and even moonshine. “We make a great Bloody Mary; we have seasonal drinks and our slushies are awesome,” said Hannah Cowan.

Hannah claims the Belle River Red is their most popular offering and acts as a signature wine. With notes of blackberry jam, vanilla and a hint of tobacco, this rich wine has smooth, gentle tannins with a touch of ripened plum and berry fl avors. Th e fi nish is long and fruity with a perfect ending of oak.

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