Ken Albert, Founder
In 1998, after many years as an IBM engineer working on computer chips not bigger than a quarter inch on each side, and growing grapes in my back yard, I made the jump to full-time, commercial scale grape growing and winemaking.
I was born in New York City and grew up on the 4th floor of a typical NYC apartment house. Nevertheless I was always interested in growing things. Upon moving with my wife and two young girls to Shelburne in 1971, I immediately planted some grape vines in our suburban backyard. It was a wet and shaded spot so it did not quench my passion and desire to have a successful vineyard. So, on my retirement from IBM I leased 3 acres of prime farmland on Shelburne Farms. Grapes planted on that plot made up Shelburne Vineyard’s first wines released in 2001 and the plot continues to yield prime wine grapes.
To educate myself on grape growing and winemaking, in the days before the internet, I searched out every wine and vine related book in the UVM library. Since our first planting on the Shelburne Farms site, I have been attending wine making and viticulture conferences held each winter by Cornell University in the Finger Lakes Region on New York State. My interest in all this may also be genetic, as I learned from my father that my grandfather back in Hungary had a plum orchard and a bonded distillery that make plum brandy (shlivovitz) back in the era before WWI.
After my family and growing grapes, my other compelling interest has been in Shelburne town politics and town planning and Vermont’s unique landscape. I served 10 years on the town Planning Commission and the 18 years as a member of the town Selectboard.