Don decided to go "pro" in 1982 when he became a champion homebrewer and president of the New York Homebrewing League. His family ancestry spurred an interest in spirits starting in college while an exchange student in Scotland. He served an apprenticeship in English ales and graduated in 1986 from the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. He traveled all over the the United States, Australia and Germany as a certified brewmaster. He won gold, silver and bronze at Great American Beer Festival, wrote numerous articles, reviewed books and conducted seminars at craft-brewing tradeshows nationwide. Don came to Cincinnati in '88 to open the city's first brewpub, Wallaby Bob's.
He met his wife, Linda, in Cincinnati. He settled down, launching a commercial consulting/equipment business geared to start-up brewpubs, microbreweries, wineries and microdistilleries.
Within the first five years, Don consulted, devised recipes and sourced equipment for fifty-three start-up brewpubs and microbreweries. He also sold parts and equipment to wineries and small distilleries. He built a small pilot plant to demonstrate equipment. When the brewpub fad peaked, he closed the consulting business and began discussions with the state of Ohio to establish a microdistillery license. The pilot plant was expanded and licensed to become a fully functioning winery.
In January 1999, Don rented space for his new venture from another winery 40 minutes, north of Cincinnati. He became Ohio's sixty third winery, as well as, Ohio's first microdistillery. At the time, there were about ten other microdistilleries in the entire United States. A few years later, Woodstone Creek moved into central Cincinnati and became an urban winery/distillery.
As a winemaker and mead mazer, he took medals in both his first local, national and international competitions - Taster's Guild, Finger Lakes International and Indy International. His goal to medal in spirits came when Cincinnati Vodka took Silver from the prestigious Beverage Testing Institute's International Panel, Chicago 2007. Later, his bourbon medaled with BTI in 2008 and his peated single malt rated highly by the American Distiller's Institute and achieved a stunning 92 in the 2009 edition of "The Whisky Bible".