gmhTODAY 11 gmhToday Nov Dec 2016 - Page 30

gilroy LIVING Fifty Something In Gilroy WITH SAM BOZZO O ur local friends Estelle and Larry invited us for a wine tasting with mutual friends Massimo and Rita from Italy. We went to Satori Cellars Winery in Gilroy. What a delightful time we all had, including a chance to meet the winery’s owners, Tom and Sandy Moller. Their wine is so good, and with cheese and French bread, we couldn’t miss. Now, I kinda sorda inquired as to how old the Mollers are, through Elks Caterer Dave Bozzo. Dave frequented the Gilroy Golf Course when he had the Gilroy Grill in the 90’s. That’s where he first met Tom Moller. Both Tom and Sandy were most gracious in agreeing to an interview with TODAY even after we told them we wanted to feature fifty- somethings! Tom’s first visit to Gilroy was in 1987 when he attended the Gilroy Garlic Festival and thoroughly enjoyed it. Originally from Boston, he was living in San Jose at the time. By 1991 he was working in Morgan Hill and had become very familiar with the South County. Like some Silicon Valley “garage” startups, he launched his business in a living room with 11 employees and watched it grow to about 500 employees in a 250,000 square foot building. It all coin- cided nicely with his being at a point in life when he was ready to buy a home. Tom said he was very lucky to have found such an amazing property at a price that was within his budget. At that time the land had plums. When I checked with my rancher friend, Don Manzo, he said the plums were most likely French prunes which were once a mainstay crop in the Santa Clara Valley. When Tom moved in, he discovered the aged trees were infe sted with the shot-hole beetle. Wisely, he cleared them. When his father visited shortly thereafter, he jokingly said the place was like a dust bowl. Initially, Tom thought he’d set up a Christmas tree farm. He planted 7,000 of them. They didn’t last because he didn’t have sufficient irrigation in place. Then he got the idea to grow grapes. gmh Sam Bozzo has lived in Gilroy since 1976. He has served as President of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and has been a demonstration chef at the event for many years. He is co-writer with Gene Sakahara of the local best seller, So You Think You Can Cook cook- book and has been part of the SakaBozzo comedy duo for many years. He lives in Gilroy with his wife, Judy. They have two sons who, with their families, also call Gilroy their home. 30 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 He put in a proper irrigation system, followed by 1,000 grape vines, with the help of five workers. Now Tom was a novice, but one of the crew by the name of Raymundo seemed to know what he was doing. Tom asked him to come back to provide some additional help, not realizing that Raymundo worked for another guy with a vineyard not too far from his place. The next day, that guy showed up with a tractor and a crew, including Raymundo. Together, they put in 1,000 vines, which ultimately led to a vineyard lush with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Sarah, Sarah, and Zinfandel vines. That was the beginning of Tom and Sandy’s future in the wine business. Sandy had known Tom for a long time even though she lived in Marin County. She loved the Marin life style and had a thriving business in the health industry. She also liked guys that drove Ferraris. Even though she knew Tom she thought of him as just a friend. He called her one day and asked if he could pay her a visit. Meanwhile, Sandy’s mom thought that Tom was terrific and urged Sandy to date him. When Tom pulled into her driveway in his 1974 truck, Sandy, who was into the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” secretly wished that he would park his truck around the corner. When they decided to become a two- some, Sandy was not yet convinced that South Santa Clara County was the place to live. Her business served 52 hospitals, she had a great house in what she liked to refer to as “the promised land.” There was no question in Tom’s mind that Sandy was the one. So they took turns visiting each other, in Marin and in Gilroy. Eventually, she sold her business and her house, there was a wedding, followed by a pregnancy, and Tom and Sandy Moller decided to join forces to form Satori Cellars Winery. To my way of thinking, theirs is a love story. Their love for one another, for their son Riley, for their land and its vineyards, and for the many people they’ve met since gmhtoday.com