But while his name carries weight and prestige, Cobb says he’s still just a “a Mill Valley skateboarder who got coasting tickets from (former MVPD Captain and current Mill Valley Mayor Jim) Wickham,” he says with a laugh of the citations doled out to skateboarders coasting without a brake around the time the Depot Plaza was first created in the early 1980s.
“I have no ego,” Cobb says. “When people meet me, they often say, ‘that’s not what I was expecting.’ But while I’m very proud of our wines and our vineyard, I’ll always be very down to earth.”
Cobb is bringing this endearing mix of revered reputation and down to earth charm back to his hometown on Sunday, June 2, as his Cobb Wines are getting the star treatment at Chris Wanner’s West Coast Wine • Cheese at 31 Sunnyside Ave. for the official after-party for the 38th Annual Wine, Beer & Gourmet Food Tasting on Sunday, June 2. The after party begins at 4pm, immediately following the WBGFT, which runs from 1-4pm in the Downtown Plaza.
Born at Marin General in 1970, Cobb attended Old Mill and Park elementary schools, then Mill Valley Middle and Tam High, where he graduated in 1988. His family lived on Blithedale Terrace and later on Locust Ave., just above the old Prune Music and Brothers Tavern.
In the late 1980s, Cobb’s parents David and Diane bought a property in west Occidental in Sonoma County on which they hoped to build a house and plant a vineyard. They sold their Mill Valley home son after Cobb graduated from Tam and moved up there, planting their first Coastlands Vineyard grapes and building a small home there in 1989.
After high school, Cobb pursued environmental studies and sustainable agriculture at UC Santa Cruz, working in the family vineyard during summers and weekends. The family sold their grapes to a few top wineries, and that remained their primary goal. But Cobb realized that the hilltop the vineyard was on, which is very similar to Bolinas Ridge, faced conditions that would yield very little crop at times.
“So why don’t we make wine to buffer us in the low-yielding years?” Cobb asked.
The family made home wine through 1999, and by 2001, Cobb convinced his parents to take an acre and a half block of the vineyard to make Cobb Wines.
Cobb’s first job out of college was at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in Dry Creek Valley, where he set up a soils lab to further explore his interest in soil mapping and the microbiology of soils. He moved onto Williams Selyem for two years, which was using Coastland grapes, and then to Flowers Vineyard & Winery as assistant winemaker, where he struck a deal to make 1,000 cases of his own label, staying for nine years.
“It was around then that realized how deeply I wanted to make the best wines possible—beautiful wines,” he says. “To do this, I dedicated myself to learning everything I possibly could about Pinot Noir viticulture and winemaking.”
Cobb says that no matter how long he’s been making wine, he’ll forever remain open to new ideas. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” he says. That’s why traveling is so great. It’s so fun in general but it also constantly opens up your mind.”
“A lot of it was just learning how to make wine and answer the question, ‘what is a wine,’” says Cobb, who's been living at Coastlands for the past six years, overseeing the vineyard, along with his wife and daughter. “That sounds strange, but it’s more than just fruit and mouth and feel and age-ability and scores. It’s something to drink and enjoy, not just something to analyze and score. It should be something to drink and enjoy, but in subtle terms.”
Cobb says he's thrilled to share that sensibility with the people of his home town.
"I still have a lot of friends there, friends I used to go to the old Sweetwater with," says Cobb, who worked at the former Mill Valley Coffee Roastery and the Sequoia Theatre.
“He wanted to me to get off my skateboard,” Cobbs jokes.
Cobb says he wouldn’t mind bumping into Wickham at the event.
“I still have that ticket,” he says. “And I know the mayor!”
The 411: Ross Cobb brings his Cobb Wines are getting the star treatment at Chris Wanner’s West Coast Wine • Cheese on Sunnyside Ave. for the official after-party for the 38th Annual Wine, Beer & Gourmet Food Tasting on Sunday, June 2. The after party begins at 4pm, immediately following the WBGFT, which runs from 1-4pm in the Downtown Plaza. Attendees with wristbands from the WBGFT receive discounted pricing on current releases and some library gems from Ross' past, both by the glass and bottle in the shop and and by bottle for retail purchases to take home. MORE INFO.
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