Susan Sokol Blosser’s Impact on the Wine Industry

Susan Sokol Blosser is famous for her unrelenting efforts as an environmental advocate and community activist. Her name is synonymous with the  Oregon pioneer winery, Sokol Blosser Winery, in Dayton. She is recognized as one of the female icons that blazed the trail of Oregon’s wine industry, and her impact still resonates to date.

Susan has a B.A. from Stanford University and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Portland to acknowledge her achievements in creating awareness of environmental issues and social responsibility. She has also received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oregon Wine Board.

Her unwavering commitment and passion for creating a healthy environment led to her adopting environmentally friendly business practices in her wine business. For Susan, a successful business emphasizes people, the planet, and profit. Her winery is certified as “organic” and is the first winery building to get LEED certification from U.S. Green Building Council.[1] While sustaining its momentum in making world-class wines, Sokol Blosser Winery also prioritized environmental ethics and social responsibility.[2]

Susan Sokol Blosser

Susan Sokol Blosser’

Thanks to Susan Sokol Blosser’s unrelenting efforts and leadership at Sokol Blosser Winery, the estate has won several awards, including the Oregon Governor’s Award for Sustainability in the Small Business category in 2008, Winery of the Year by Sunset Magazine in 2007, and Best Green Companies to Work For by Oregon Business Magazine in 2009.

Susan and Bill Blosser founded the Sokol Blosser Winery in 1971 and made the company the sixth-largest wine producer in Oregon.[3] She worked at the winery for over three decades and oversaw vital areas of operation, including serving as vineyard manager from 1980 to 1990. She also participated in pruning, operations, and other processes like pulling leaves and suckering. Susan also operated tractors and used forklifts to load grapes.

Reaching for the Sky with Sokol Blosser Winery

The winery produced Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and proprietary blends of various evolution wines. They also made small quantities of sparkling wine, single block Pinot, White Riesling dessert wine, and Pinot Noir Rosé.

The winery’s first Pinot was planted on 5 acres of land in 1971, and their first vintage was unveiled six years later in 1977. Susan got a notable architect, John Storrs, to design the winery’s first tasting room in Oregon; it was built in 1978, followed by another in 2013.

It didn’t take long before Susan Sokol Blosser extended the vineyard’s acreage. She bought nearby vineyard land that increased the estate to 86 acres. In addition to the leased land in Eola Hills, Blosser recently acquired 65 acres of land in the Yamhill-Carlton in 2021 — Kalita Vineyard.

Second Generation Transition

During her reign as president of the Sokol vineyard, the estate gained lots of recognition and extended its local and international distribution capabilities. Almost at the peak of her career in 2008, Susan made a decision that amazed virtually every stakeholder in the family business. She passed the company’s leadership to her children (Alison, Nik, and Alex) and retired.

Considering the active involvement of the Blosser siblings in propelling the business to greater heights and the successes they have achieved so far, one can confidently say that the transition of the winery to the second generation was a success.

Alex took over as winemaker from Russ Rosner, while Nik contributed as a board of directors member. Alison joined the company in 2004 and worked in sales and marketing after receiving an MBA and working with different startups.

Thanks to the solid foundation set by Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser, the winery boasts a production capacity of over 90,000 cases annually, with distribution reaching 50 states and 12 countries. See more resources here

On this day in history

September 22, 1907 — French wine grower and cafe owner Marcelin Albert led the winemakers of Languedoc to revolt against wines from Algeria in 1907. The revolution was triggered by increasing unemployment, falling prices of locally produced wine, and the inability of local winemakers in France to sell their produce because of the state’s high rate of wine importation. This event is known as Révolte des vignerons du Languedoc, which translates into “Revolt of the Languedoc winegrowers.” It is also known as the “paupers revolt.”  The event started on March 11 and ended on September 22, 1907, after its demands were met through a revised law.

November 22, 1933 —  Philippine de Rothschild (also known as Philippine Mathilde Camille, Baroness de Rothschild) of the famous Rothschild family was born on this day. She is the only child of Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. She took over Chateau Mouton Rothschild after Baron Phillipe died in 1988. She also inherited Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc Milon. Her name is synonymous with several wine holdings, including Domaine de Lambert, Viña Almaviva, Opus One, Mouton Cadet, and Château Mouton Rothschild. In 2013, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Want to read more? Try these books!

Susan Sokol Blosser, Susan Sokol Blosser’s Impact on the Wine IndustrySusan Sokol Blosser, Susan Sokol Blosser’s Impact on the Wine Industry

References

  1. “Susan Sokol Blosser – Sokol Blosser Winery.” 2022. Sokol Blosser Winery. https://sokolblosser.com/our-team/susan-sokol-blosser/#:~:text=Susan%20holds%20a%20B.A.%20from,and%20the%20Oregon%20Wine%20Board.
  2. 2022. https://liquidindulgence.co.uk/sokol-blosser/.
  3. 2022. http://oregonwinepress.com/article?articleTitle=finalizing-2011-numbers–1327954411–1077–klooster_cluster.

Photo attribution: Susan Sokol Blosser, Courtesy Sokol Blosser Winery

 

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