In Remembrance: Enologist Mark Osborne
On Thursday, May 20th our team lost a dear friend and colleague Mark Osborne. Mark, a bicyclist, was struck by an alleged drunk driver near Sebastopol on Wednesday, May 12th, and died of his injuries on May 20th. While our whole team is still processing this loss, we wanted to share more about this man who has been an integral part of our crew for over 14 years.
Originally from Australia, his passion for the wine industry came as a second career after he worked as a mail carrier into his 30s. He went back to school to study winemaking and came to Sonoma County as an intern at Gary Farrell Winery in 2007 and has been with us ever since. Having been an intern himself, Mark gladly shared his depth of knowledge and passion for wine with those around him and in turn inspired and nurtured the growth of countless interns and members of the production crew throughout the years.
Our Director of Winemaking Theresa Heredia looks back fondly his grounded nature and stubborn can-do attitude along with Mark’s passion for unique ideas, finding inspiration in his desire to experiment and be challenged as a winemaker.
She has this to say about the man who has been an integral part of each of her vintages with the winery, “Mark was often the person I turned to when I had a crazy winemaking idea that I wanted to put into effect. He was a big fan of experimentation or any new ideas at all, so I could always bounce ideas off of him and I knew that he would usually support them and get really excited with me. During the most recent harvest I mentioned one of these crazy ideas to him and his response was, ‘Ah, ya know, it’ll be a huge pain in the ass, but I think we should give it a go because I’ve always wanted to try that’… Our winemaking team will never be the same without Mark. We are a very tight team and we’ve always functioned as a unit, so the loss feels immense. He was a big personality and everyone loved him.
He was the teammate who kept us all grounded and always made us laugh, even during the most stressful circumstances. Some of my fondest memories of Mark are the cherished times that we hugged one another. He wasn’t a big hugger, but occasionally, when called for, he would open his arms wide and say something like, “come on, bring it in”. His absence leaves a gaping hole in our hearts and in our four-person winemaking team, but he would be the first one to tell us to ‘get a grip’ and keep going. So, we continue. Hopefully, we can each learn some life lessons as we reflect on the way Mark lived his life so humbly, passionately, and generously.”
Mark always had a smile on his face and his dry witty humor never failed to lift our spirits during the early mornings and long days of harvest. His passion for life and genuine compassion for the natural world is very difficult to match. We already miss his inquisitive nature, positive outlook, and commitment to everything he did in life.
Associate winemaker Brent McKoy counts Mark as one of his dearest friends, having worked together since Mark first arrived in California. They worked side by side and grew in their roles together.
Of his friend Brent says, “Mark was a simply amazing person that made the most of every single day. He lived his life to the absolute fullest, constantly striving to learn new things and to better himself and those around him. He loved being outside, talking to people, sharing a good laugh, and was a great friend to all who knew him. Mark had an extremely positive, easy-going nature despite his boundless drive, and truly brightened the day with his ever-present smile and good cheer. Mark’s presence will always stay with us, and I’ll personally miss our daily lunches together out on the terrace, enjoying the sun, cracking endless jokes, and telling stories for the ages.”
We want to thank all those who have already reached out with their condolences and well wishes. While the team will take a long time to process this, we know that his life partner Tracy Hinman is now reimagining her life without Mark.
A GoFundMe has been set up to honor Mark and his life, with funds going to organizations he was passionate about – Friends of Trione-Annadel and Sonoma County Bike Coalition. Please join us in donating what you can to his memory.
Sincerely, Nancy Bailey & the Gary Farrell Crew