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Frank Sumrall
May 10, 2021 | Frank Sumrall

Breathless Wines Featured in North Bay Biz

Owned and operated by three sisters, the winery was named in honor of their late mother, Martha, and for all the breathless moments she created.

Under the warm spring sun, Breathless Wines becomes an oasis in Healdsburg for regality. Any troubles are melted away with an array of sparkling champagne choices placed outside as the drapes miming an isolated royal tent guard against the May breeze. The noble ambience peaks once the saber is introduced.

Sabrage is the art of opening a wine bottle with one sweep of the blade against the bottle, popping the cork off in dramatic fashion. It’s one of the many grandiose ideas Breathless brings to wine tasting.

Owned and operated by three sisters, the winery was named in honor of their late mother, Martha, and for all the breathless moments she created. “Our mother was a very inspirational woman who never took a breath for granted,” says Sharon Cohn, one of the three sisters. “How she lived every day is pretty amazing. We thought we could create something that would represent that.”

“My sister Rebecca kept saying, ‘Come on, let’s do a label, let’s do a label.’ We started thinking about it in 2010, and she kept pushing and pushing, ‘We got to do this,’ ” says Cohn. Sharon had a business at the time, a massage parlor called Massage Envy. But once she sold her stake at the parlor, all three sisters jumped into the world of wine together. The third sister, Cynthia, was working for business development at Rack & Riddle Wine Services at the time, where she met Penny Gadd-Coster.

Gadd-Coster, the winemaker for Breathless Wines, began her renegade career with Jordan Winery before working with Rack & Riddle and Breathless. “Once I got the opportunity to start making wines for Rack & Riddle, I was able to bring my own style from some of my mentoring,” says Gadd-Coster. “Then I took another step with Breathless Wines, where I was able to craft these wines in a style that I believed fit what we are trying to do.”

Gadd-Coster had to combat a male-dominated wine industry while she mastered methode champenoise. Of the 4,200 wineries in California, just 14% are led by a female winemaker in 2020 according to Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D., and John Carl Gilbert, Ph.D. in a study for Santa Clara University. And what better winery to do so at then Breathless, a company run by three women. Gadd-Coster’s call to action is to bring bubbles to all, and the women-centered team of Breathless is bringing her goals to life.

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