I know very little about viticulture, but I have an interest in all growing things. From my seated position in yoga class I often place my focus on the “Old Mother” grapevine, planted in 1861 as part of the Spanish padres’ contribution to Mission life.
If it’s possible to love a grapevine, I think I do.
I previously wrote about this aspect of Southern California viticulture history HERE.
Wineries and vineyards are the second most popular tourist destination in California, second only to Disneyland.
Although there are 3,800 bonded wineries in California, most family owned with interesting backstories, I’ll have to narrow my focus. In the interest of not overwhelming you, we’ll take them one at a time–three of them, not all 3,800.
Combining my interest in agriculture, viticulture and Spanish California land grants, our first stop is the Mosby Wine Tasting Room.
Bill Mosby and his wife, Jeri, purchased the old de la Vega land in the 1970s, and immediately began planting vines. This probably didn’t surprise anyone who knew Bill, since his winemaking interests first started almost fifty years ago as a student at Oregon State.
I found Bill quoted as saying, “I fermented anything I could get my hands on.”
Mosby’s first commercial wine release in 1979, under the Vega label, was named after the land and location, but at his family’s insistence in 1986, the label changed to reflect the family name.
The red carriage house, adjacent the old adobe where the Mosby’s live, serves as the tasting room.
A trip to Italy in the 1980′s sparked a new interest, and taking advantage of Santa Barbara County’s Mediterranean climate, Vigna della Casa Vecchia vineyard was planted, just beyond the 1853 adobe.
To the best of my investigative skills, I believe the Mosby’s have five established vineyards in the surrounding areas, and an olive orchard on the Mosby estate, with favorites including a ruby-colored Primativo, a complex and full-bodied Sangiovese, and aromatic Dolcetto. There are many others, of course.
The Mosby’s also have an Italian operation in the Italian region of Marche, where in partnership with an Italian group, he produces Ossessione, made from the Montepulciano grape.
If you are interested in knowing more about these award winning Cal-Italia wines, you might enjoy further reading HERE.
So why am I particularly interested in this winery?
Several reasons, I suppose. I love the location, find the history of the surrounding land and beautiful hills particularly appealing, and the wines themselves are complex and very enjoyable.
But I find people interesting. Why do some follow their interests all the way through to make significant changes in their life trajectory? I’m always curious about the motivations and psychology behind why some people are risk-takers, yet others have a stronger need for security. People hum along at different vibrations!
I think Bill’s choice to leave behind a 40-year career as a dentist and to expand his role from part-time grower and winemaker to full-time vintner in 1998, makes his story–makes him interesting.
It may seem I talk about climate and environmental challenges a little too often, but when considering viticulture, climate and soil, terroir, always represent a degree of gamble. Consider the implications of California drought cycles.
My research didn’t reveal any particular information about the risks Mosby took, or the financial implications to his family. Surely he calculated how much work would go into a successful winery–yet instead of retirement, he moved forward with major steps fueling his passions and interests.
I think his active interest in this endeavor is more than likely part of a recipe for overall healthy aging and well-being.
However, I don’t think it’s necessary to hold a particular interest or focus on wine and wine production to have a full appreciation for the people who contribute to the whole, and the Mosby’s are a part of California’s $61 billion wine industry.
How is that for significant state economic impact?
If you have never thought about the families behind the labels, I hope I may have helped to change that. There are some really intriguing and hardworking people connected to this industry.
Mosby Winery and Vineyards is located on Santa Rosa Rd. along Hwy 101, just south of Buellton.
Thanks for coming with me today. Next stop…Melville Winery. I have another family I’d like to introduce!