December 06, 2012

Alumni Spotlight: From Hamline Law to Pipestone Vineyards

As a boy growing up in rural Ohio who never missed the 5 a.m. radio farm reports, Jeff Pipes' destiny to farm was shaped at an early age. So where does his Hamline Law degree fit in?

Pipes, JD '94, came to Minnesota to attend Carleton College, and there met his wife and future business partner, Florence Wong. The pair loved Minnesota and after getting his Master's degree in hydrogeology, Pipes worked as an environmental engineer. He came to Hamline Law to expand his work on behalf of a better environment as an environmental lawyer.

But it wasn't long before Pipes' destiny called. He determined that he could have a positive impact on the environment by applying sustainable practices to the 30-acre almond and walnut farm he and Florence had purchased in Paso Robles, California. Today, the Pipes, together with their two girls Grace and Gwen, and two Percheron draft horses, produce roughly 2,000 cases of organically grown wine at Pipestone Vineyards. Pipestone's sustainable practices drew the attention of Smithsonian Magazine, which documented this fall's harvest for future publication.

"Our winemaking philosophy is very traditional," Pipes said. "We try to let the wine take care of itself without our intervention. We truly believe that the wine is made in the vineyard. Because we are such a small production winery...we can literally hand make each wine individually and handle the fruit very gently."

As Pipes says, "Isn't it amazing what people who went to law school are doing now?" As a winemaker and a businessman, Pipes says his law degree has served him well. Pipestone's Rhone Style Red Wine (a Grenache based mélange blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre) was featured at the Hamline Law Dean's Dinner last month.

In conjunction with the Dean's Dinner, Pipestone Vineyards is offering a discounted $99 three-pack wine holiday gift special. The $99 includes three bottles of its Winemaker selected Pipestone wines, tax, and shipping and handling within the continental U.S. Visit www.pipestonevineyards.com to order, and make sure to indicate "Hamline Law" in the comment box to take advantage of this offer.