Cinnabar Winery is the quintessential Silicon Valley dream come true—for two people, at least. Founded by the late Tom Mudd, a Stanford grad and scientist at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), Cinnabar was named for the vermillion pigment derived from mercury. When Mudd hired young Ron Mosley in 1983 to clear the land and plant vines high above the Valley, he could never have known that one day, Mosley would own the winery. After Mudd passed away in 2007, his children inherited the brand and its successful tasting room in downtown Saratoga, but their dad’s passion was not theirs. Mosley, a successful viticultural consultant and winemaker, recently gained ownership of the brand he helped to build with shovel, pitchfork and tractor. Some things do, indeed, come full circle.
Mosley’s intent on keeping the past alive, but has his sights on moving forward. “Mercury Rising became our signature red wine in 1992 when we sold out of the estate cabernet vintage,” Mosley says. “We needed something to sell!” He plans to make a premium Black Label edition of Mercury Rising and bring back Incantation, an old favorite semillon-based white. Reflecting on how wine-buying habits have changed over 30 years, Mosley observes: “With the aging of our traditional wine connoisseurs, buying wine to lay down is slowly converting to buying wine to enjoy in the near term, which is what millennials and Gen Xers are doing. It will be a challenge to step up to the new wine drinkers’ needs, but challenges are fun!”
Acknowledging competition from other wineries and the public’s appetite for beer and spirits, Mosley says he’s turning to tempranillo, albariño and sangiovese to excite jaded palates. “Sangiovese,” he says, “means ‘the blood of Jupiter,’ a perfect fit with the Cinnabar ethos.”
MOSLEY ON HIS FIVE FAVORITE VINTAGES1. 1997 Estate Cabernet Fully ripe, brick red, earthy. One of the best!
2. 1992 Original Mercury Rising Red Soft, supple, pizzaworthy
3. 2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay Tangerine, lemon, silky, smooth
4. 2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir Forest floor, redwood, spice
5. 2016 Petit Verdot Lush, dark chocolate-covered cherries