When Angela Osborne had her first taste of grenache in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, in 2002, she knew at that moment she had to make it herself. “It was the most perfect yin-yang balance I had ever encountered in the wine world,” she recalls.
While working in wine retail in Auckland, New Zealand, during college, she landed a three-month internship at Simi Winery in California—an opportunity that changed the course of her career. The winemaking process wasn’t as romantic and rose-colored as she expected, but every moment—from cleaning, filling, rotating and emptying barrels to patching up wood-boring beetle holes—made Osborne fall more in love with it.
The experience made a bold enough impression on her that she abandoned her plans to become a filmmaker back home in New Zealand. In 2006, she decided to make California both her home and a hub to grow grenache. Since then, she’s been harvesting grapes for her label named after her grandmother, A Tribute to Grace.
Although grenache is one of the most commonly planted red grapes in the world, Osborne’s discerning choice of terroir makes her 100-percent varietal wholly unique. In search of optimal heat and light conditions, her vineyards span the golden coast from the high-desert of Cuyama Valley outside of Santa Barbara to further north near the Santa Cruz Mountains.
So what does Osborne do when she’s not preaching the gospel of grenache? Here, she tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share a cocktail experiment with nut milk gone wrong, an encounter with Marilyn Manson’s manager and the best wine she’s ever drank. —Tatiana Bautista
Winemaker at Grace Wine Company.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A winemaker with land!
Best thing you ever drank:
Chateau Rayas 1999. This was the wine that governs all I do, dream about and aspire to.
Worst thing you ever drank:
I was asked to help a natural winemaker identify whether the wines in his (plastic) tanks had brettanomyces. That was my first distinct introduction to what extreme populations of the saveloy-sausage-type-of-brett tastes like, and, unfortunately, now my nose is a bloodhound for it.
First time you ever got drunk:
I was a teenager, and we drank a horrid pre-mixed vodka Gimlet concoction before a rave. (The drinking laws are younger in New Zealand.)
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Salmonella Dub, Killervision.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Buy land in New Zealand.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
My only bartending job was many years ago at a London restaurant called The Providores. It was a restaurant with cocktails rather than a bar, so there was no direct service. Though we did get to make all of the staff “love” at the end of every service (their name for individual staff cocktails in espresso glasses). I recall making something that was intended to mimic maybe an Espresso Martini meets White Russian? But with some sort of nut milk. It curdled, and was hideous.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Visit Rarawa Beach.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
A bottle of Bulls Blood from Marilyn Manson’s manager. It was years ago at a wine shop I worked at in Auckland, and I was all of 19 and wasn’t aware there was a Hungarian wine called Bulls Blood. The gentleman looked a lot like the singer he managed, and I thought he meant bull’s blood literally.
Your favorite bar, and why:
It’s a little whiskey bar in a tiny town called Volcano (Amador County, California). No idea of the name, the town maybe has a population of nine. But there is only one bar, and it’s amazing!
Best meal you’ve ever had:
My 40th birthday meal, at Blue Hill. We were meant to dine at Stone Barns, but there was a crazy storm and the restaurant shut down for the weekend. So they helped us with a table at the NYC one instead. Truly divine.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
In a dive bar?
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Swim in the ocean, though it’s been far too long since I’ve had one. I’ve been pretty much pregnant or nursing for the last seven years. Maybe hangover regime in my forties will teach me new tricks?
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The last text message you sent: