Breathless in iSante Magazine
Sisters Dream Big and Honor Late Mother With Breathless Wines
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away." -Maya Angelou.
My first thought after being invited to explore the sparkling wines of Breathless Wines was that it was a rather unusual name for a winery. By its very definition, one might immediately think of not being able to breathe. Having just recovered from Covid-19, I admit that my thoughts did wander in that direction. But other definitions for “breathless” are anticipation, excitement, or the act of experiencing a strong emotion. And after tasting these enchanting sparkling wines, they did take my breath away but in a very positive way!
The box that the wine arrived in was an eye-catching presentation with a lot of thought and love poured into it and certainly captured my attention!
Breathless Wines, a female-led winery, was founded in 2008 and is located in Healdsburg, CA in the heart of Sonoma County’s wine country. It is owned and run by three sisters, Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust and Cynthia Faust. The winery was born out of a desire to honor their mother who passed away from a rare lung disease. I asked the sisters why the name “Breathless”. Sharon replied, “We are honoring our mom, Martha, who encouraged dreaming big. Our mom lived her life taking no breath for granted, even before her diagnosis, so the name Breathless fit her to a tee.” Their mother’s passion for life, to dream big and live life to the fullest was passed down to her daughters and is evident in every aspect of Breathless Wines.
The sisters, who refer to each other as sister 1, 2, and 3, each bring their unique expertise to Breathless. Sharon, (sister 1) Is the “glitz, glamour and panache” behind the bubbles of Breathless and handles all of their Marketing. Rebecca, (sister 2) brings her business savvy to Breathless with over 20 years of experience in the wine industry. She is co-founder of Rack & Riddle and has been the CFO of several wineries. And Cynthia, (sister 3) who is the ambassador for Breathless, has also been in the restaurant and catering area with her husband.
I asked them why they decided to focus on sparkling wines. Sharon said, “ Sparkling wine has always been a favorite “go-to” over the years for all of us. Rebecca (sister 2) and her business partner Bruce Lundquist, started what has become the second-largest producer of sparkling wines, only behind Korbel. Custom crush for bubbles has increased in demand as they built the business from the ground up and so we had the perfect launching pad and with Penny, their executive winemaker willing to take us on, we began our quest.”
Breathless winemaker, Penny Gadd-Coster, and honorary 4th sister brings her expertise and passion for producing Méthode Champenoise (traditional French method) sparkling wines. She was awarded Winemaker of The Year in 2013, just one of many awards in her 35 years of winemaking.
Breathless Wines works with select vineyards throughout the North Coast of Sonoma County and Mendocino County. Their focus is on sustainability and finding the best grape clones within these choice vineyards. Sharon said, “Penny has worked with our vineyard partners, for over 13 years. She has a love for the Pommard Clone (Pinot Noir) and searches it out as she can. Her profiling and blending of the grapes to make the Breathless wines is spot on to what the sisters are looking for time after time!”
And, indeed, these wines are “spot on”!
Breathless Brut NV
Sourced from vineyards in Sonoma County, this is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. Aging is 24 months.
Deep gold in color, wonderful aromas of brioche, tart apples, and a touch of floral emanate from the glass. Fine bubbles and a refreshing mouthfeel lead to a palate of melon, pear, citrus notes and a hint of vanilla that lingers on the finish.
Breathless Blanc De Noirs NV
Grapes for this wine were harvested from Sonoma County and is a blend of 93% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Meunier. Aging is 24 months.
A soft salmon color sets the stage for succulent aromas of berries, brioche and a hint of spice. This is a refreshing wine with fine bubbles that enhances the flavors of strawberry, cranberry, cinnamon and a hint of spice. A touch of citrus zest lingers on the finish. Ooh, la la!
Breathless Blanc De Blancs NV
Sourced from Sonoma County, this 100% Chardonnay is aged for 32 months.
Pale lemon in color this sparkling wine opens to delightful aromas of sweet apple, baking spice, citrus and tropical fruit notes that spill onto the palate with a creamy and fine effervescence. Pear and a touch of vanilla linger on the finish that begs for another sip.
I love wine labels and this one is certainly an attention-getter. Sharon explained how they chose this particular label. “We searched high and low for a label for Breathless. Our vision was of the hikes we took with our parents while backpacking in Yosemite and Yellowstone and every day hikes in Sonoma County. We would reach the summit and turn around to admire the view and were always reminded of how lucky we were to live and experience the beautiful nature all around. We were breathless from the hike and the view. We just couldn’t translate that to the bottle no matter how hard we tried. Our sister Cynthia found this beautiful 1915 vintage poster while googling champagne under Wikipedia. We all agreed it perfectly embodied our mom and her spirit. This label represents how our mom, Martha, lived life every day, always celebrating large and small accomplishments and time together. The woman on our label not only is a tribute to our mother but to all the men and women who teach and remind us to take each breath we are given as a gift to be cherished.”
Have a glass of Breathless sparkling wine and enjoy the journey it takes you on. And remember, just breathe.