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A Stretch and Wine Saves Minds

Molly Lebowitz relaxes by doing yoga and making wine

Published in 2007 New England Super Lawyers magazine

“One of the things I like best about Vermont is no one is quite what they seem,” says Molly Lebowitz. “You might meet a lawyer, and then you start to dig down and you find out they run ultramarathons or are a master woodworker. They’ve made enough space in their lives that they can have a passion other than work.”

Case in point.

Lebowitz, the director and real estate attorney at Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew in Burlington, is an Ashtanga yoga instructor, an owner of a vineyard and a breast cancer survivor.

It was 1996, and Lebowitz––along with her husband, Harrison––had raised $400,000 and was in the process of launching Vermont’s first commercial grape winery and vineyard. The cancer diagnosis came as an unexpected blow. No one would have blamed her for throwing in the towel on the momentous project to focus on recovery. But for Lebowitz, there were no sour grapes.

“The investors said, ‘You don’t have to go through with this, we can abort the process,’” says Lebowitz. “But we felt more strongly than ever that we could make a difference in Vermont.”

After two years of research and lobbying to establish workable state laws dealing with wine tastings and shipping regulations, the vines were finally planted, and Snow Farm Vineyard sprung to life on an island in the middle of Lake Champlain. Now, with 14 of its 20 acres under cultivation, the vineyard provides a handful of jobs and is a shining example of successful agricultural diversity in the state.

“Initially, we had no idea if you could grow grapes in Vermont,” says Lebowitz. “We kept waiting for a reason why it wouldn’t work, but nothing ever came up.”

Soon after bottling began, Snow Farm started snagging awards, including a bronze medal in the 1998 International Eastern Wine Competition; a silver medal in the 2000 Taster’s Guild International Wine Competition and a double gold medal in 2003 in the Taster’s Guild Wine Lovers Competition.

The vineyard is also home to a thriving free concert series, with a growing attendance of concertgoers on any given Thursday evening. And it’s playing an increasingly important role in supporting local tourism by offering three wine-tasting sites––something common in California, maybe, but a novelty in a state known more for its black and white dairy cows than its sauvignon blanc.

Lebowitz’s experience with cancer also prompted other changes in her life. Long a competitive swimmer, she left that interest behind and took up yoga.

Attracted to its spiritual aspects, Lebowitz became an instructor in Ashtanga yoga––the most vigorous of the yoga disciplines.

“I like that it’s very physical but yet, it’s still spiritual. You go through strenuous moves, and then rest,” she says. “It quiets your mind and puts things into priority.”

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