Copia Vineyards is a tale of a young couple who left successful careers in engineering and journalism to follow their love, passion and ambition for wine. Not only did Anita and Varinder not grow up in wine, but they grew up without wine. Meet Copia Vineyards.
Tell us a bit about you two, did you grow up in wine?
Anita: I grew up in the Midwest, in the Chicago area, the middle child of three, to parents who were born in Karachi, Pakistan. My childhood was a typical American one, save for the fact that I was taking green chutney sandwiches to school sometimes (thanks, Mom)!
From a young age, I had an interest in all things culinary. I also had an interest in writing and it was this passion that won out when I chose to attend Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism focusing on the broadcast program.
In the early 2000s, the world of restaurants called, and I answered. I spent the next 14 years working in every aspect of the business. I landing in the marketing department of Drew Nieporent’s Myriad Restaurant Group that includes Tribeca Grill, Nobu Restaurants, Corton (now Bâtard) and more.
It was here that my true “wine education” began. I was working with one of the world’s best restaurateurs and some of the world’s best wine directors and sommeliers. I met winemakers and even helped to coordinate an annual Rhône Walk-Around at Tribeca Grill.
Varinder: I was born in Punjab and spent my formative years there. Punjabi life is very communal and self-sufficient. It’s an agrarian society. My pursuit of education took me to Bangalore, India for electrical engineering and later across an ocean to Toronto to earn my MBA. I worked in a corporate environment and regularly found myself at corporate events really enjoying fine Napa wines from Silver Oak, Caymus and others. Even as my palate was growing for fine wine, my bank account lagged far behind!
To me, fermented grape juice started as such a simple idea, but I was beginning to see that it wasn’t so black and white. I embarked on a journey of self-exploration and learning that included travel to different wine regions and finally earning my winemaking certification from UC Davis.
In 2015 I bought some land with my brother in the Central Valley to cultivate for wine grapes and later in 2017 I acquired the 50 acres that is now Copia Vineyards in Paso Robles.
“Arriving in Paso Robles and deciding to move here is really the culmination of the desire to return to what is important in life. “
For Varinder, this meant getting back to the land. For me, it meant taking a step back from the frenetic pace of the restaurant business. Wine was a shared language for us. At the end of that same year (2015), as part of Varinder’s studies at U.C. Davis, he was offered to be part of an educational tour group visiting Paso Robles Wine Country. I tagged along, not thinking much of it.
We both had very minor exposure to this part of California. It was 3 days filled with meeting 11 winemakers and vineyard managers. Basically, lightning struck. Paso Robles, with its maverick spirit, world class wine and community of genuine people, had our hearts. One of those winemakers on that tour made a very special impression on us.
In 2016, we both returned to Paso to be Booker Vineyards harvest interns with winemaker and farmer Eric Jensen. In 2017, we found the property that is Copia Vineyards. Paso Robles, for us, is all about the terroir and the people, in equal measure. The rest is history and we are living in our own personal postcard. There is such a feeling of gratitude when we start each day.
Let’s talk a bit about the brand. If the Copia brand was a person, describe her/his personality.
“Copia is your free-spirited Aunt who couldn’t be bothered to settle down because she was always traveling off to Europe and other faraway places.”
What’s your winemaking point of view, what are you looking to achieve in your wines?
We look to achieve balance in all things – fruit, acid, tannins, texture. We enjoy wines that speak both to their varietal and terroir.
You 2 love to cook, if you had to battle Bobby Flay on his show, Beat Bobby Flay, what would be your signature dish? Which of your wines would you pair with it.
Even though we love cooking from around the globe, we’d match up with Bobby on Indian cuisine because we could totally take him down with that.
Varinder: It’s an obscure reference for those who don’t know Bollywood movies, but that is what I grew up with. He’s an actor that goes by one name: Dharmendra. He used to be the action king – a tough guy’s tough guy. I’d imagine he’d be captivating as a spokesperson!
Let’s play a game called “Pour Decisions” which one in each pair would you want to have a glass of wine with and chat with, and which one would you want to slap with an open hand?!
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman
Kanye West and Taylor Swift
To learn more about Copia Vineyards and their beautiful portfolio of wines visit them at https://www.copiavineyards.com/