A weekend in wine country is just as dreamy as it sounds. After a couple days in West Sonoma County, we didn’t just understand how it inspired our designers’ fall collection – we wanted to move in. Follow along on our adventure …
In many ways, Ross Cobb’s family winery started with him. In 1989, his parents, David and Diane Cobb, began cultivating pinot noir vines to distribute to artisan vintners. To Ross, the leap to winemaking wasn’t far behind. After studying with other winemakers, he and his father began experimenting with a lo-fi production using their estate grapes. After years of development, Ross proposed formalizing the venture, and Cobb Wines was born. Today their cool-climate pinot noir is in such demand, you’ll be lucky to get your hands on it.
“For me, a life well lived is making wine, eating great food and traveling. That’s all I need.”
FG: What makes Cobb a unique winery?
RC: We’re growing grapes up here on this uplifted marine sedimentary soil, so these are areas that used to be the beach line that set along the coast. And as the ocean plate, the Pacific Plate, subducts under the Continental Plate, which is what we’re on, it goes underground, and it’s actually buckling slightly at the coast and we’re being pushed up. So this area here has this very rich alluvial soil, this beautiful sandy clay loam soil that used to be maybe a river bed or an ocean floor, and it’s been pushed up here to 1,100 feet. So, we have this incredibly rich soil, which is great for growing grapes and yet we’re right on the coastline so we get this beautiful elevation pushed above some of the fog, so we get the beautiful sunlight. Usually the soil at this elevation is depleted, eroded soil that’s eroded over millions of years, so it’s very unique to find this quality of soil at this elevation.
FG: What do you most enjoy about welcoming people to the winery?
RC: Whenever people come here, I immediately bring them out here to the deck overlooking the vineyard, overlooking the ocean and it’s just self-explanatory. People go ‘oh my gosh, I could stay here for a while.’ And I don’t have to explain the view, it’s just this gorgeous spot. You can see the Pacific Ocean, you can see the white caps off the ocean on a clear day, you can see the fog billowing down the valley on a foggy day. I just welcome them into the home, the family vineyard house here, open up a bottle of chardonnay that we have from a neighbor’s vineyard and open up a bottle of pinot noir from the vineyard here, and it’s pretty easy to just enjoy yourself and just hang out.
FG: How long has the winery been here?
RC: My mother and father planted the Coastlands Vineyard in 1989, and we expanded in 1998 with the vines down the hill. So, between ’89 and ’98 we planted the vineyard and established the infrastructure of the home. This has been our family home now for 30 years. My mother and father lived here for many years, and now my wife and my daughter and I have lived here the last six. We actually bring the grapes to a neighbor’s winery down the road in a more industrial area where there’s more access to water and electricity. I’ll spend half my day here in the vineyard looking over the crew and the infrastructure here, and then I’ll spend half my day with the crew racking the wines. So, harvest time I’m spending literally all night here harvesting grapes from midnight until six a.m. with headlamps. It’s actually cooler then so the fruit comes into the winery cooled; you want it to come in at about 50 degrees.
FG: How would you hope a guest describes a visit to Cobb Winery?
RC: Very personal. The best visit they’ve ever had. They got to hang out with the winemaker, they got to have a real experience. I like to do a tasting right here at this table, overlooking the vineyard, and it kind of explains itself. It’s pretty effortless. I pop a couple bottles, talk about winemaking, travel, my love of pinot noir and that’s really what people want … a real one-on-one. And I get people that come back every year or two, and they bring a couple they’ve been talking to about it and they just share the experience.
FG: What does an evening entertaining your friends and family look like?
RC: The first thing we love to do is walk into the vineyard and talk about grape growing with a glass of wine. Really talk about the pruning, the way we manage the vines throughout the year … tell them the story of the vines, their age … and then we come back and have some nice cheese and crackers and a nice dinner out here. Open up a few bottles of wine and talk about pinot noir and travel. You can talk about the production and subtleties of it for hours, and it’s always interesting to me. That’s what I love doing.
FG: What does a life well lived mean to you?
RC: For me it’s being able to travel. Being able to have a happy home, a healthy home. Being able to eat well, drink well and travel well. Every time I travel to Europe, I come back with new ideas and inspiration and new friends and people to visit. People I’ve met in Germany or France will come back and visit me here. And having that international connection in the wine world is so satisfying to me. A life well lived is having friends around the world to visit and having a home that I can accommodate them coming to visit me. For me, a life well lived is making wine, eating great food and traveling. That’s all I need.
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