While some lawyers enjoy sipping a glass of wine at the end of a long day, Mark Tobin, B.B.A. '85, J.D. '88, goes one step further. He actually makes the wine. A seasoned attorney in all matters of eminent domain, Tobin is also the owner of a Long Island vineyard.
Tobin lives in Miami and works at the national firm Akerman Senterfitt, helping to continue to enhance their eminent domain practice. "I have dedicated my entire career – twenty-three years – to the protection of constitutional property rights, representing property and business owners and tenants in eminent domain matters," he said.
Born to a family of developers and investors, he assumed his career would involve real estate, but his father made sure Tobin knew his future was in his own hands. "Before I went to college," he recalled, "my dad sat me down. He said, 'Whatever you do in your life, I will be extremely proud of you, but you don't have a job waiting for you when you finish college.'"
The Tobin family connection to the University of Miami is a strong one. All four siblings are U.M. graduates. A finance major, Tobin graduated with honors, taking every real estate course available to undergraduate business students. Applying to law school made sense to him, and he has fond memories of his time there. "I had an amazing experience at U.M. Law School," he said. "Being in an urban setting and having outstanding lawyers and judges come in from their daily practice and actually work with us made it real," he recalled.
Tobin's love for wine and family is at the heart of his journey to becoming a winemaker. His wife, Christine, comes from a long line of Italian-Americans who for generations typically made wine in their garages. His father-in-law taught him the ropes. In 2005, the Tobins decided to pursue their passion. They bought a vineyard in Southold on Long Islands' North Fork. "I had a moment of temporary insanity," Tobin admitted. "I led with my heart".
Named for their children Matthew and Isabella, Mattebella Vineyards is a winery with a philosophy. It endeavors to consistently create high-quality European-style wines that are both food- and budget-friendly, using sustainable farming practices. The 2005 Mattebella Old World Blend was recently awarded a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator.
Like a true winemaker, Tobin has found a way to blend the passions in his life. His priority is his practice, and he speaks enthusiastically about his wine, but at the core of it all is something else. "My family," he said "is most important to me."