Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Feb 11th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sips To Savor

dining Katie Fox at Vino TabiKatie Fox of Vino Tabi Winery helps fuel Santa Cruz County’s unique culture

The first time Katie Fox stepped onto United States soil, she was 11 years old. Born of American parents in Hitachi, Japan, she grew up speaking Japanese and English, and is completely at home in both cultures. After returning to Japan for a time, Fox eventually attended UC Santa Cruz and took a wine chemistry class there in her senior year, never imagining then that this would be the start of her winemaking career.

Now at the helm of Vino Tabi, the popular wine bar on the Westside in Santa Cruz, she looks back on those early years, noting that, “when you’re going to college, nobody gives you that box to check that you’re going to be a winemaker.”

An MBA from the University of Texas was among the degrees she received in college, and business travels took her all over. Eventually she was lured back to Santa Cruz, where some of her college friends were making wine in a co-op. She began making wine with them and taking enology classes at UC Davis. Loving the whole process of making wine, she went to the University of Bordeaux in France, and on to Australia and England to further her studies. 

When she eventually moved back to Santa Cruz, she was working in high tech, but decided to discontinue that to concentrate on marketing California wine to Japan. With her knowledge of Japan and the language, she found it was a perfect fit.  Finding the demand in Japan for fine wines expanding, Fox then decided to use the knowledge she had gained in making wine and open up her own winery in 2008. She named it Vino Tabi, which means “wine journey” in Japanese.

“Instead of continuing just being a marketing person, I opened up Vino Tabi to fill the need for custom wines in Japan. We could either make it or find it, and I decided to make it,” Fox says. “It’s always been fascinating to me how wine is made. It’s so mysterious – with a thousand different processes going on.”

When Fox opened up Vino Tabi, she enlisted the help of Jeff Ritchey, a wine consultant from the San Jose area who also makes wine under his own label, Sensorium Wines. Ritchey, who has been with Vino Tabi since the beginning, makes sure everything is done correctly.

“He’s quite the scientist,” Fox notes.

Daniel Santa then came on board as the cellar master, and the three of them are the winemaking team.

Fox also runs wine education events in her spacious tasting room. She holds winemaking classes and invites people to discover how certain tastes get into the wine, with so many different influences. There are classes on the chemistry of wine, the acid, alcohol, sugars—and also fault classes to point out things that shouldn’t be in the wine.

Viticulture consultant and vineyard manager Prudy Foxx, who oversees the quality of the grapes and is known as “the grape whisperer,” also factors into the mix. “Prudy finds us the best grapes ever,” says Fox. “They’re pristine, and it makes our job a lot easier. We love Prudy, she’s such a part of the business.”

Fox also runs a program called Barrel Buddies, where people can buy into the production of wine and take away some for themselves. Customers can also bring their own grapes and Fox will make wine for them.

Fox supports the Keizei Society, a U.S.-Japan business forum, as well as the Japan Society of Northern California’s tsunami relief efforts. “We donate wine to support their programs and tsunami victims, especially orphans,” says Fox. “We have a private label wine and we donate 20 percent of the proceeds. We did that the first year, and we just decided to do it ongoing.  We think that’s really important.”

Vino Tabi’s Friday night music with Andy Fuhrman will start up again on Nov. 1, and, with the new West End Tap & Kitchen right next door, hungry customers can now order appetizers or a cheeseboard in Vino Tabi’s tasting room and it will be delivered to them there.

“On warm days, we’ll set the table outside,” says Fox. “It’s quite a nice little scene over here on the Westside,” she adds. “And it’s dog friendly and child friendly as well.” 


Vino Tabi Winery, 334 Ingalls St., Suite C, Santa Cruz, 426-1809. Vino-tabi-wine.com. Tasting room open noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Making Dreams

Coen brothers salute vintage Hollywood in sly comedy ‘Hail, Caesar!’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster