Tastes from three wineries…but we’ll start with just one.

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.

wine tasting daily

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?

Mosby Wine Label

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!





63 thoughts on “Tastes from three wineries…but we’ll start with just one.

    1. I was thinking that Bill Mosby would have been a dentist that I’d have enjoyed knowing. I could ask my questions and then just sit back in the dental chair and let him talk about his passions. When my kids were little their pediatrician also wrote Hollywood screenplays and I would want to talk about the children and he wanted to tell me about his writing. I wonder how many people have very high priority careers, but really wish they were doing something else. That’s probably true of so many!

  1. Now this is the type of place I would love to stop. As a general guideline when I’m in California, if I’ve heard of it, I probably won’t stop … thus I discover gems like this one! Great report!

    1. Knowing you’re familiar with the California wine regions I definitely thought of you, Frank. These Italian varietals would probably be interesting to you. My son introduced me to Mosby, and he has a real love for Italy and Italian wines. He finds these really enjoyable. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to come back and give Mosby a try! 🙂

  2. Oh you have made me long for another trip to the beautiful Santa Barbara wine region, Debra. What a lovely winery, and a fascinating story. I just love the smaller, family-run wineries. Thanks for sharing this one with me.

    1. I really like the smaller ones, too, Nancy. It feels like being invited into someone’s home and much less commercial, even though of course their goal is to sell their wines. But in the smaller operations the owners are directly involved at every level and it really is personal. You’ll just have to put Mosby on your list next time you visit. 🙂

  3. I need to look this wine up and buy a case of it, just because I admire people who follow their passions. What balls. What guts. What determination. I know I’d love these people. And their wine.

    1. You do understand, Andra, and I am so glad you do. I really do believe that our well-being is fueled when we tap into a creative passion, and then follow through at whatever personal cost. I, too, would love to sit and have a conversation with the Mosby’s. 🙂

    1. You always make me laugh, Colleen. I think there is a way to appreciate the art of something we don’t personally need to experience. I’ll give you information that you can bring out at parties and confuse all your friends…they may begin to wonder if you’re secretly drinking, though, so be careful. LOL!

  4. Debra, I hadn’t really thought about all the family wineries in California. Love this post, and a view into that world. 🙂 I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have a vineyard with the drought cycles in California, and impacts of global warming.


    1. I have google alerts keeping me informed about the drought and agriculture, and sometimes I’ll get something that directly addresses the drought and the wine regions. So far, it sounds like they’re all doing well, but a lot is riding on this next year, in some areas. The Santa Barbara region gets a lot of fog and that definitely helps. But the overall effects of global warming, specifically in temperature changes, does appear to have some really long-lasting implications. One of the most interesting things is that since it’s warming in other parts of the world, countries like Great Britain, and even China, have already started planting vineyards and are posing potential worldwide competition. I think there’s room for everyone to play, but because it’s due to changing climate, that is still more of a concern, isn’t it? It’s a lot to think about! Thank you for your interest, Karen. ox

  5. I love hearing about somebody who has the guts to follow their passion, especially when it involves wine! I’m also obsessed with beautiful wine labels – their’s look lovely.

    1. Aren’t the Mosby labels beautiful, Eva? They are really works of art. They were definitely the most eye-catching of any we have seen in our travels. I am really enjoying reading about the families behind the different wineries. There are so many outstanding stories and I know at some point I’ll have to stop talking about them. LOL! Maybe I’ll have to go back up there and befriend some of these notable individuals so I can talk directly to them. 🙂

  6. Loving the header. Really a reel for your focus on wineries. I wouldn’t mind taking life risks when it comes to something you are passionate about, and make a living out of it. 😉 When I was in Italy, my landlord makes wine but not from the scratch. They get the grapes and other things they need. It really is fascinating – the care, the patient, their examination, and their passion for wine.

    1. Thank you for noticing the header image, Rommel. I took the photo from the grounds of the house we rented for our long weekend. I could easily live there, given the opportunity! 🙂 Living in Italy must have been a worthwhile experience. What a wonderful country for food and good wine. I’d have enjoyed seeing the process behind your landlord’s winemaking! I think the care and patience is exactly what makes the winemaking experience an art!

  7. I’m not at all familiar with any wines grown in Germany, since Bavaria is a hop-growing region. 😉 I do enjoy a glass occasionally though! Interesting to take a look around a place where it is actually made. Cheers Debra!

    1. Every region has it’s own footprint in the winemaking process, and if I can find the right resources, I would like to learn more about wine regions of the world. I am by far not a wine expert, and we don’t drink enough “fine wines” to ever really be that knowledgable about the wines themselves. There is something about the growing process that really intrigues me. I do think beer with Bavaria, but I know there are some good German wines. And next time you enjoy a glass, Cathy, maybe you’ll be interested in knowing more about the people behind the label. 🙂

    1. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, CCU. I am definitely not an expert in wine either, but I have started reading and I am finding what I learn to be really interesting. There are so many subtleties to the way grapes are grown and then the art of wine making. I am so pleased to share some of what I find so interesting. 🙂

  8. Well, I would have commented sooner but I was spending so much time at the Mosby site that I lost track of time. Oh my!
    I love this, Debra, and may have to buy a bottle of wine just to have one of the labels. Aren’t they beautiful? I love these small wineries. We attended a wedding not long ago and not far from here. The reception was at the bride’s parent’s house. It was simply elegant, but, the point is that the father, a surgeon, has a very small vineyard there. Of course, we all toasted the couple with his wine, bottles sitting on each table, me waxing poet to anyone who would listen.

    What I really may buy, when they are back in stock, is the olive oil. There is a story in my back pocket about California olives, my Greek grandmother, and olive production in a small suburban kitchen.

    1. I’m definitely interested in your story about the California olives. I know it can sometimes take a while to get these posts ready for delivery. I’ll wait, with curiosity. 🙂 My son was the first to introduce me to Mosby, and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful label!They are a cut above all others, I think. You know, I think at some point I’d really like to learn more about the wineries that produce in your region. I have been spending quite a bit of time reading about the California regions and the unique features of weather and soil, but when I think about the cold winters in the midwest I don’t really understand how growing grapes works! I honestly can’t picture it, but I’m really interested. The wedding you attended sounds like such a lovely occasion. Your description sounds almost cinematic. What a lovely memory, Penny. ox

  9. It’s so beautiful. I love the buildings. Your images are gorgeous and really tell the story of this winery. Wineries always look like a lovely place to sit and relax as well as wander xx

    1. Thank you for the nice compliment about the winery photographs, Charlie. I think they would be even more beautiful now that the vines are probably leafing out. There is a graciousness and hospitality in these small family wineries that really does appeal to me. People were having picnics and just enjoying themselves. We will be traveling up that way again in a couple of months and even if we can’t spend much time, I’m determined to stop by and say hello! 🙂 I hope you have a lovely Easter, Charlie. ox

  10. dandyknife

    Good story. With only ten free articles per month on my freebie NYTimes subscription, I pick and choose, but the headlines I most often click on are in the obituary section. And when I join my choir to attend a funeral of someone I never met, I always listen carefully to our minister’s reflection on that person’s life. I’m fascinated by how individuals — famous or everyday — are described by others.

    PS In scrolling down this page on my iPad, I at first thought the Mosby wine labels were the spines of fairy-tale books!

    1. Aren’t the Mosby labels beautiful? I think they are what first attracted me in the first place! I really appreciate your thoughts about reading obituaries, and I think you must learn a lot about people by paying attention to what is memorialized in a eulogy! I’m glad we share the interest in knowing the story behind the stories. I really think we can learn a lot from others. I think you may agree. I hope you have a lovely Easter. From what you’ve shared about your role at church, I would think you might have some special choir performances. 🙂

  11. It’s great to read about people who are not afraid to take chances. This was very interesting and reminded me I want to visit the vineyards here in our town.

  12. Le Marche? That’s the Bartolini ancestral homeland, Debra. My Dad’s family, on the other hand, is from San Marino. From what little I know, Montepulciano grapes grow pretty much all over Italy but predominantly in Le Marche, Abruzzo, and Molise. It would be interesting to learn where in Marche he traveled.
    It’s amazing how the status of California’s wine has risen over the years. Where they were once scoffed at by the Europeans, they now are taken seriously by most — and with good reason. California is putting out some really good wine.

    1. How interesting to learn that the Bartolini’s come from Le Marche, John. I don’t know that much about the geographic regions of Italy, but I think you’ll have to come to California at some point and meet the Mosby’s. The nice thing about these small wineries is that the families are so accessible and friendly. I recently watched a great little movie on Netflix, “Bottle Shock” that delves into the mid-70s when California wines started winning the French competitions and then by word of mouth the industry took flight! It was a very informative film. It certainly highlighted the risks the early Napa/Sonoma vintners took, mortgaging everything they owned and not really knowing if there would be anything of quality to come from their hard work. Of course, it’s these stories that capture my interest. 🙂

  13. I know so little about viticulture, that I didn’t even know that term before I read your post. Gosh, that’s sad, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing this winery, but thanks even more for the education.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    1. I’m not sure where I first learned the word, viticulture, Kathy, but I know I haven’t always known it! I have had friends through the years enroll in courses at one of the state universities to pursue a degree in winemaking. It is such a big industry here that it’s a whole field of study. I don’t know why you’d know the word without some of that context! Isn’t it fun, though, to see what bits of information and knowledge we pick up from each other through our blogs? I know I learn something “new” all the time just from others’ experiences. I find that such a bonus! I hope you and Sara have a wonderful week. ox

  14. I also Love to hear about people turning towards a heartbeat something that is exciting to them! and then becomes a life passion I feel that way about a few things ! I love wine but can only have a little like one glass! Or I get to silly! Love and Miss you!

    1. I can hear your giggle coming through your response, Deb. One glass of wine is often quite enough–just make it a nice one. 🙂 I miss you, too!! Hope you and Don enjoyed a nice Easter, my friend.

  15. It’s a little early in the day for a glass of red right now, Debbie, but I had some very nice shiraz last night. I do admire the guy’s energy. I can’t do anything for as long as I used to any more, passionate or not. But I do try! 🙂
    Hope you had a wonderful wine-tasting Easter break.

    1. Your response made me laugh a little, Jo, because as I read your blog I’m always thinking you have tremendous energy! Your curiosity and strong general interests would tell me you have as much energy as anyone I know! 🙂 I did enjoy Easter with my family. I hope you did, too. ox

  16. This is fascinating stuff, Debra. I love wine, but don’t know much about its production. It’s so interesting read how the wine industry developed in California, Our bit of France doesn’t have vineyards but orchards, so I know much more about how cider and apple brandy are made. 🙂

  17. Dear Debra, I’m interested in learning about the “Melville Winery.” Why? Because Hermann Melville is among my favorite authors. So bring it on!!!

    I don’t drink alcohol because I’m allergic to it and break out in bright red splotches also I get drunk immediately–with just a few sips. And then I sing and talk loudly and begin to dance! Quite a show. But I do so enjoy learning about wine. Like you, I find history and the people who live it fascinating. And I always like to learn more about California. Your blog has helped me appreciate a state about which I had no positive view. But California, as you’ve shared it with us, has now become a place I’d so like to visit and explore for a couple of weeks. The California tourist organization needs writers like you, filled with enthusiasm and the gift of setting a scene and giving a history and making both fascinating and intriguing. Peace.

    1. My goodness, Dee. I have never heard of anyone having such a severe reaction to alcohol, but you are certainly wise to stay away! I am really so pleased that I have had an opportunity to provide an alternate view of California from the one you previously held–all negative. LOL! I know where those impressions come from, so perhaps that’s subconsciously been a part of my desire in sharing what I find really unique and enjoyable about a very large state. California has plenty to boast about, and much that isn’t all that boast-worthy. I find both aspects interesting, so I keep myself entertained with the history and I’m so grateful that I have friends like you who encourage me to continue sharing. I hope to post about Melville by Wednesday. I don’t think the family has any direct connection to the wonderful author, but I might see if I can find out about that little fact. Wouldn’t that be interesting. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Dee. ox

  18. Pingback: Melville Winery–stop two in our three winery tour | breathelighter

  19. Tom McCubbin

    I’ve been out touring the northern California wine country this week. Best time of year to see the wild flowers, vineyards, and orchards.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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