Full Circle - The Story in More Detail
Soon after the New York State Farm Winery Act was passed, my parents bought a plot of land overlooking Keuka Lake in the undiscovered Finger Lakes region. I was thirteen. Summers were spent planting grapes, putting in trellis posts, and fertilizing (by hand!).
In college I would help bottle the wine and pour wine in the tasting room.
I grew up in Rochester and attended McQuaid Jesuit High School.I went to University of Notre Dame and studied Chemistry and Biochemistry.
I also studied abroad in London. I got my first taste of independent travel on a lone bicycle trip through Ireland.
After working an internship in Chemistry at Eastman Kodak, I went to Penn State to pursue my interest in Global Environmental Change, researching subjects such as global warming. I studied in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and achieved a Master of Science degree in Geography studying the effect of the forests on the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
With my degree I went to Washington DC to implement geographic information systems and software engineering for a firm with contracts with the federal government.
After that I pursued a dream I had since graduate school to travel extensively. I spent over a year traveling in India and Southeast Asia. I kept a blog about it.
Upon returning I avoided the cubicle that was probably waiting for me in Northern Virginia. My parents' winery had expanded and I joined to help first with bottling and then with fermenting the following vintage.
After a number of years of winemaking, the world was calling to me again. I wanted to see how vineyards were grown and wine was made in other wine regions. I went to Germany to help with harvest there. Then I went to New Zealand to help there.
After I returned I worked with a premier winegrower in the Finger Lakes and gained experience growing a number of varietals in our fickle Finger Lakes weather and climate.
At this point I was ready to start my own label. I found a beautiful property overlooking Keuka Lake near my parents' house and winery and launched Mark T. Wiltberger Cellars.