Friday, December 2, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Earth Mother


A decade after Sideways, the wine road-trip indie flick, was filmed in Santa Barbara County, “The Sideways Effect” is still coming to light.

Turns out, one of the millions of moviegoers who saw it was a young film-school graduate from New Zealand living in England.

Little did Angela Osborne know at the time that her direction in life would soon take a complete 180 back to the New World.

Beautiful mother-to-be Angela Osborne cradles a bottle of her “Farmers Jane” wine, at Bell Street Farm in Los Alamos.

“I was in London on a really cold, dreary night. I had walked to the movie theaters with a friend of mine. It was raining. We went and saw Sideways,” Osborne recalled. “And I thought, ‘What am I doing?’”

Visions of sun-drenched California vineyards danced in her head, as she reminisced about dabbling in wine both Down Under and in the Golden State.

Years earlier, while working in a wine shop during college in New Zealand, Osborne had developed an appreciation for wine. A winemaker there noticed her passion and lined up a harvest job for her in Sonoma County.

Osborne emptied, scrubbed, fixed, and filled wine barrels for three months, “and I loved it,” she said. “I hadn’t realized it was so human—that there was so much man/woman power involved in the making.”

That is also when she tasted Grenache for the first time, which gave birth to her dream of someday making elegant, feminine Grenache herself.

Just months after being inspired by Sideways, Osborne was back in Southern California.

The daughter of an American father and a Kiwi mother lined up a harvest job in 2007 at Beckman Vineyards in Los Olivos, and that year she also started her own wine label.

Osborne then worked a harvest in New Zealand, and in 2008 she landed an assistant winemaker job at Casa Barranca, a certified organic winery in Ojai.

A couple of years later, Osborne returned to Sonoma for a winemaking job, but soon decided it was time to focus full time on her own wine company, A Tribute to Grace, devoted to one grape: Grenache.

“When I first had Grenache, what struck me about it was its grace,” she said.

It just so happens that Osborne’s beloved 91-year-old grandmother in New Zealand is named Grace. So the wine label is dedicated to her.

Osborne had sourced her fruit from Santa Barbara County all these years, so it made sense to move closer to her grapes in the Cuyama and Santa Ynez valleys.

Last year, she and her husband, Jason, settled down in Los Alamos. She makes her wines—800 cases annually—at the nearby Martian Ranch Winery.

This artistic artisan takes an intuitive approach to winemaking, staying as close to nature as possible.

“I pick according to the moon. I rack according to the moon,” Osborne shared. “Lots of lunar energies involved.”

While working in the cellar she plays music and even burns a heart-shaped candelabra while gracefully foot-treading her grapes during fermentation.

The idea of lighting candles came from yet another film, the magical Mexican romance Like Water For Chocolate.

Osborne traveled to a village near Guadalajara, Mexico, where she bought a statuesque 28-candle candelabra similar to the one used in the movie.

“I call it the ‘burning heart of passion,’” Osborne told me. “So there’s lots of heart space, I guess, around Grace.”

Just sitting with this special young lady over tea at a welcoming eatery—Bell Street Farm in Los Alamos—and hearing her life story, I was fascinated by the full and colorful life Osborne has led in just 35 years. 

Pictured is “A Tribute to Grace” 2012 Rosé of Grenache, handcrafted by winemaker Angela Osborne, on the bottling line in Los Alamos in April

And her life is about to blossom even more with the addition of her new “little kiwi.”

Osborne and her husband will soon return to New Zealand for the birth of their first child in July and then return to Los Alamos in August, just in time for harvest.

Following the example of the first friend she made in America many years ago, winemaker Faith Armstrong-Foster, Osborne is confident that she, too, will find a way to balance winemaking and motherhood.

“There’s something inherently nurturing about winemaking,” Osborne added.

Armstrong-Foster and she have teamed up to co-produce a wine label together, embracing their femininity. They call it Farmers Jane Wine Company, and it’s based in Napa using grapes sourced from Santa Barbara County.

“This is exciting! This is many years in the dreaming,” Osborne said. “True girlfriends are very, very hard to find … she’s amazing.”

The Farmers Jane label features two pretty ladies, one holding a hoe and the other grasping a wine glass, while balancing on a wine barrel.

Farmers Jane released their first three wines in January: a white (Chenin Blanc), a red (Grenache/Carignan blend), and a rosé (Grenache/Cinsaut).

On May 1, Osborne released her newest A Tribute to Grace vintages: 2012 Rosé of Grenache, Coghlan Vineyard; 2011 Grenache, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard; and 2011 Grenache, Shake Ridge Ranch.

Osborne describes her Vin Gris Rosé from Happy Canyon as youthful and energetic; her Cuyama Valley Grenache as “deep, dark, and grounding … Brazilian rosebud, cassis, sandalwood, harp-sounds in its lyricism;” and her Sierra Foothills Grenache as “alluringly feminine in her perfume, slows the world down with layer upon layer of Venus.”

A Tribute to Grace and Farmers Jane wines are sold at Bell Street Farm and Los Olivos Café, in addition to shops and restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and beyond.

Visit for more information about buying “grace.”


Sun wine and food columnist Wendy Thies Sell believes the world could use more grace. Contact her at

Weekly Poll
What do you think about a farmworker resource center in Santa Barbara County?

It's a great way to create a network of collaboration and reach people in need.
It's been needed in the county for a long time and should have been made earlier.
We don't have the funding now, but we should come up with ideas in the meantime.
We don't need it. There are plenty of resources readily available.

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