Passaggio Wines – America Dreaming

I met Cynthia Cosco several months ago through social media, basically Twitter. Then a year ago I made my first (yes, I plan on going back again and again) trip to California Wine Country. Cindi and I met in person at Sebastiani Winery and shared a bottle of wine with Chef Robin White. I didn’t even realize that Cindi made her own wine until the day we met. She brought me a bottle of her unoaked Chardonnay – and it is scrumptious!

So here’s to Cynthia Cosco for living the American Dream! Cheers!

It was 2002 when I started thinking about leaving Law Enforcement to start my own journey into the Wine Industry.  It is my passion, it is my life…
In 2004, I finally took the plunge.  It was like standing on the edge of a diving board 20 feet above water.  Do I jump? Or should I turn around and walk back down the steps that brought me to the edge of that diving board.  Each step up that ladder represented an accomplished goal taking me where I wanted to be. “Do I have the guts to do this?” I thought…and then I jumped…

It was July 2004 when I took the journey across the country.  Yes, I left my Law Enforcement career in Virginia and drove across the country to California.  I pursued my passion.  I had a plan…sort of.  I really had no idea how one gets into the wine industry so I decided to get a job at the local Beverages and More (better known as BevMo) BevMo is a large retail shop selling wine, spirits, beer and much more.  I filled out the application and got the part time job.  I was hoping to meet someone in the wine industry who could steer me in the right direction.  I did.  I met Hal Hanifl.  Hal would host tastings in the store every Saturday for BevMo.  I found out that Hal also worked full time for Chateau St Jean in Sonoma.  Hal was kind enough to get me a harvest temp position with Chateau St Jean for the 2004 harvest.  I started working in August.  They put me in the cellar and I loved it.  The sight and smell of everything wine was pushing me to learn everything I could.

It was a couple of weeks into the 2004 harvest when the Lab Supervisor from Chateau St Jean came and asked me if I would mind coming to work in the lab for the rest of harvest.  I thought to myself “are you kidding…who wouldn’t?” I said yes and ended up working for Chateau St Jean for three years.  I was able to study Enology at Napa Valley College while working.  I soon was promoted to Wine Chemist II and wanted more.  

In 2007, I decided it was time to pursue that passion even further.  I wanted to make my own wine.  I had heard of this place called Crushpad, a custom crush facility located in San Francisco.  I went to their open house.  It was an awesome place to say the least.  A large winery located in a 35,000sq ft warehouse.  I walked around in amazement.  I found the head winemaker and was able to speak to him for a few minutes.  I explained to him that I wanted to make an unoaked chardonnay.  Unoaked Chardonnay was not that popular then, but it was what I wanted to do.  During our conversation I told him a little of my story and background.  He then told me that he needed a Lab Manager.  He asked if I would be interested.  In August of 2007 I became the Lab Manager for Crushpad and brought in my first harvest of chardonnay grapes.  In May of 2008 I launched Passaggio Wines.  In 2010 I was promoted to Winemaker in charge of the White Wine program.  In August of 2011 I took that final plunge to branch out on my own.  I left my job at Crushpad and now work solely on Passaggio Wines.  Today I have four varietals…Unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Rose, and Pinot Noir.  For 2012, I am upping my production.  Scary?  Yes.  Exciting?  YES!!!

I have come to appreciate those who work in Marketing and Sales.  Making wine is part of my nature.  Marketing? WOW – what a hard job!  It takes all I have to get the word out about Passaggio Wines. If you had told me three years ago that I would be tweeting and blogging about my wine, I would have looked at you sideways.  Surprisingly, I am becoming adept at social media and I have built quite a few loyal followers…the number is growing.

During my three years at Chateau St. Jean, I overcame many obstacles and jumped over the proverbial hurdles that come with learning a new way in life.  Those three years provided the foundation that I needed to be successful.  I surrounded myself with successful, strong, like-minded people in the wine industry. I followed my passion and they helped steer me in the right direction for success.  
My years at Crushpad gave me the experience of different styles of winemaking.  It truly pushed me forward and launched Passaggio Wines in the wine industry.  I still have many friends there who continue to support me.

Jumping off the diving board can be a scary thing to do at times.  The water is deep, but if you believe you can swim you can make it.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you and believe in what you are doing.  You will definitely need some cheer leaders along the way.  Have a plan.  Realize that it may take longer than you expected and that is ok.  Following your passion is all about the journey it takes to get to where you want to be.  

Each day is a new day in your adventure…
1) Be passion driven
2) Have a plan
3) Surround yourself with great people
4) Believe in yourself
5) Have fun
6) Share your time, talents, and resources
7) Go for it
Follow Your Passion
Cynthia Cosco @Passagio

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