Sally Ottoson

Few among us remind me of the Little Red Hen… You remember, “Who wants to help me sow the seeds, to grow the wheat, to mill the seeds into flour, to make the bread for us to eat?”

“Not I,” said her entourage… It was every step of the way that the Little Red Hen had to perform all tasks all by herself.

Sally Ottoson of Pacific Star Winery reminds me of that Little Red Hen; not because she’s always asking who will help, nay — she doesn’t ask for help. Rather, it’s because Sally does do it all, every step of the way, and is too busy to even think of asking for help. She’s got so much to do, and she just plows through it.

She’s gregarious, effervescent, and extremely talented. She’s a wonder. Not only does Sally make wine, but she also has the following roles at Pacific Star:

  • Vineyard relational manager (she works hand-in-hand with her vineyard growing partners)
  • Enologist (she’s constantly testing her wines for their chemical analysis)
  • Winemaker (she takes her grapes through crush, fermenting, barrel aging, then blending her components for what will end up in a bottle)
  • Cellar Master (she makes her barrel selections, does her own racking, and tops off barrels from their evaporation process)
  • Bottling line manager (she owns her own mini equipment)
  • Marketing director (direct sales as tasting room manager, attends trade shows and wine festivals, manages her three-level tier sales with national distributors)
  • Public Relations manager (she has created and maintains her own press kit, and works directly with media)

Let’s see, what aspect of the wine business did I forget?

  • General manager (Sally is that, managing a bare bones staff, and everyone reports to her)
  • Operations manager (she does whatever has to structurally happen)
  • Hospitality manager (she has a “Bung-A-Low” cottage that she attends to for her guests)
  • Wine Club manager (she makes sure that people who visit her winery continue to receive shipments of her wines in states where it’s permissible)
  • Integrated pest management (three dogs, three cats, two sheep, and all the wild life one could hope for — from whales to great grey herons)

View from the Bung-A-Low

It’s an amazing life she leads, living on the edge (literally and figuratively). Pacific Star Winery is 12 miles north of Fort Bragg, only a few feet away from the Mendocino Cliff coast line, where there’s constant, crashing wave reverie. It’s almost as though Sally’s tempting fate, and yet it all just takes your breath away. Each time I visit, I just can’t wait to return, since I’ve discovered this star of the Pacific Ocean.

Sally seems to have it all; although realistically, none of ever do in this life school setting. But… Sally’s darn close.

I admire how she labors. She fell in love with the wine business, and then put that passion to use. Lucky are we who taste the fruits of her labor…

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