Eric Preusse, The Wine Engineer
“I’d have to say the hamburgers [were my favorite thing to eat while a student here]. I think I had a couple hamburgers for lunch every single day.”
Tending to the grapevines strung across his 40-acre Broken Creek Vineyard and Winery in Shrewsbury, Mass., Eric Preusse ’83 couldn’t be further removed from his first job out of the Francis College of Engineering
, working on missile guidance systems at Raytheon.
The electrical engineering
alumnus from Westborough started Broken Creek
with his wife, Peggy, in 2011. What began as a hobby with seven rows of grapes has ripened into a full-time business, with 250 rows of 2,500 plants spread across nearly six acres of the rolling property, a former cow
pasture and dairy farm.
Preusse, who produces 300 cases (3,600 bottles) of reds and whites each year, plans to double that production after a recent expansion. The Preusses also run a tasting room and event space at the winery, which is open to the public from early spring until late December.
“The coolest part is when people come here and say they really love the wine,” says Preusse, a self-taught winemaker with no formal training in viticulture. “That’s why I’m out here working 15-hour days, doing all the pruning, harvesting, crushing and getting the fermentation going. That appreciation really makes the difference.”
Vineyard owner is actually Preusse’s third career turn. In 1989, he transitioned from engineering to a position with the staffing agency Kforce after seeing a need for recruiters who can speak engineers’ language. He was vice president of the New England region when he started Broken Creek in 2011, juggling both roles before stepping down from Kforce in 2017 to focus full-time on his vineyard.
While Massachusetts will never be confused with Napa Valley or Tuscany, there are more than two dozen wineries across the state. Preusse enjoys the scientific challenge of finding just the right varieties of grapes that can grow in the hot-and-cold Northeast climate.
“I meet a lot of winemakers who are engineers. We like to make stuff,” says Preusse, whose brother David Preusse ’85 is a mechanical engineering
alumnus. “And it goes back to my ULowell education. You come out of there with confidence. There’s a foundation they give you that I’ve been able to apply across a broad spectrum of business.”—EB