Thinking Critically in a California Vineyard

GRATON, Ca. – Ted Klopp ’67 probably never thought of himself as a farmer when he attended Wabash College.

Klop had a successful career in higher education as an academic counselor at Marin College in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco. But a series of events had him seeking a different lifestyle and led him to Sonoma County. He bought property with apples and pears growing and turned to production agriculture. Not long after making the move, he had others tell him he’d be “crazy” if he didn’t put in vineyards.

Klopp '67 also makes a little wine on his 25-acre home property

Today, Klopp farms four ranches in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley and grows Pinot Noir grapes for some of the area’s top producers. The former Sigma Chi and psychology major earned a master’s degree after Wabash but has found his hard work farming paying off in a different kind of satisfaction.

“The grapes set my schedule,” he said, sitting on his front porch with a scenic view of  nearby vineyards. He talked extensively about the hard work he puts in each day and the reward he gets working with some of the top producers in an area known for great Pinot Noir. He has several clients, but the best known are Kosta Browne, Inman Family Wines, and a real critic’s favorite, Merry Edwards.

Wabash is never far from his mind, especially in the winter months. A one-time Wabash roommate, Stephen Little ’68, spends his winters with Ted in a small trailer on the Klopp Ranch.

Klopp also talked about the advice he would give students about getting a rounded education like the liberal arts when he was counseling at Marin. He also credited his Wabash liberal arts  education for helping him tackle everyday problems in his vineyard.

Klopp has no plans to slow down any time soon. “Why should I? I’ll stop when they bury me by a vine in the vineyard.”

by  Howard Hewitt, vacationing in California wine country.

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