Geneva entrepreneurs start wine business with Napa ties
Robbin and Patrick Pipp and their three children love to take adventure trips that challenge them.
They have hiked the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park; the Ka-la-la Beach along the Napoli coast of Kauai, Hawaii; and San Juancine Mountain in southern California.
Now they're tackling a new trail and recently opened their own wine company, called Bright Angel Wines.
Robbin and Patrick own the business and operate it out of their Geneva home. So how does one grow grapes and bottle wine in Geneva. They don't. It happens in California, said Patrick Pipp, 54.
"We make our wine in Napa, California at a custom crush facility called the Wine Foundry," Pipp said. "They source grapes each year from 25 to 30 of the most well-known vineyards in California."
The family then selects the style of wine and the vineyard where they want to buy the grapes, he said.
"We work with their winemaker to ferment and age the wine in the style we like," he said. "We determine how long to age the wine. For example, our 2013 chardonnay was fermented then aged for 19 months in one-year-old French oak."
When the wine is ready to be bottled, the family goes to Napa, California, and works with the winemaker to produce the finished wine in the style the family likes.
"This is the fun part of the process and can take 2 to 4 hours to get the blend right," he said. "Once blending is finished, the wine is bottled and stored at the Wine Foundry."
The Pipp family has lived in Geneva for 22 years. Their daughter Katie, 20, has written the copy that appears on the back labels of the bottles. They also have a son Mike, 22, and daughter Allison, 24.
The company has three investors: Patrick's brother, and two businessmen from Libertyville and Lake Forest. They also help with marketing and selling the wine, he said.
So far, they have produced a Santa Rita Hills chardonnay and a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon Bordeaux blend. Any wine ordered from its website at www.brightangelwines.com is shipped from Napa, he said.
The cabernet was recently selected by the Wine Foundry in Napa to be included in their December "Wines to Watch" Club shipment. Each of the wines selected are from Napa and Sonoma counties in California. In October, the wines were sampled at the Libertyville Oktoberfest and then Chef Lee Kuebler at Milwaukee Trace, a restaurant in Libertyville, hosted a Bright Angel event where the 2013 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon was tasted.
"We both love hosting tasting events in homes and at businesses," he said.
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