"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, February 2, 2015

17. Alie Shaper

New Suffolk, New York · Engineering


Twitter:  @@AlieShaper, @bklynoenology
Facebook: facebook.com/AlieShaperfacebook.com/BrooklynOenology

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I am living my passion and dreams!  I'm the proprietor and winemaker of Brooklyn Oenology (aka BOE), my winery I started in 2006.  BOE is the tree that grew from the seed of taking that Intro to Wines class in senior year.  My love for wine, and specifically for NY wines, started there. BOE's wines are made entirely from grapes grown in New York, and we feature contemporary works by Brooklyn-based artists on their labels. 

I started the company from scratch after working as a manufacturing engineer for 10 years, and part- and full-time in the wine industry for six years while still engineering.  I admit, I spend a lot of time working; so far my winery and staff is my family, the wines my children - but I love it every day.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

Of course the Wines class was my very favorite - but one that was incredibly useful and still shapes my thinking today was ORIE 5100, Design of Manufacturing Systems.  Not only did I love my professor, the now retired Jack Muckstadt, but his course is why I became an entrepreneur. It was the foundation of how to consider the build of a consumer-goods based company, and it taught me how to think in order to create an efficient business. It's also a discipline of thinking that I've applied everywhere in my life.

If you could change anything about your Cornell experience, what would it be?

Hah, hindsight is always 20-20, isn't it?  Well, seven semesters into my engineering degree I considered changing to a Hotelie after taking the Wines class... but then reconsidered when I thought of the repercussions from my folks if I even floated that idea with them. I think I took the exact path I was meant to take, and my engineering degree prepared me well for taking on a manufacturing business. 

The only thing I might have done differently might have been to take more time to graduate, maybe take a semester off to have traveled, or ease the course load.

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?
Being a part of a large family, that extends well beyond my graduating class. Anywhere, anytime I meet another Cornellian, there is an instant connection and innate understanding of one another. I think it has to do with the fact that we all went through the same forms of hell: hard work, hard winter, and a lot of walking.