The deep red wine flows from the bottle and swirls in the glass at the Vintage Cowboy Winery in Pozo. The hand tilting the bottle is the same hand that harvested the grapes. This is how you know that 5th generation Arnold family members, Michelle Pascoe and Jessica Arnold – who personally pour Vintage Cowboy wine for tasters – truly know their product. It’s rare these days to come across a family whose livelihood involves the Western lifestyle, is fostered by a strong connection to the land of their forefathers, and are working together for a common goal.
“We want to keep the property alive, and can’t do it alone,” Michelle Pascoe shares. “We are committed to our family, this land, and to leaving a viable operation for our daughters.”
“My great-grandfather, Thomas Arnold, came from Nebraska, settled this land and started a working cattle ranch,” Michelle muses. “His son Guy, started the hay farming and my father, brother and I planted the vineyard.”
All of the above enterprises are still in full-swing on the Arnold family land. This is their legacy; this is their life.
The Land and Operations
Cattle and horses roam the land that surrounds the Arnold family vineyard, which is isolated and located away from the road. The vineyard location was chosen for these features, as well as for the soil type. The grape varieties grown produce many favorite wine types, including Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel, but one can’t forget the notable Estate blends, the fantastic Grenache Blanc and the Chardonnay.
There are simply not enough hours in a single day for all that Michelle is involved with at the Vintage Cowboy Winery. A Cal Poly graduate, a wife and mother, she manages the day-to-day winery operations.
Additionally, Michelle can be found gathering and sorting cattle on horseback, removing the MOG (Material Other than Grapes) by hand during harvest, or simply feeding the livestock and doing other ranch chores.
Family Working Together
The entire Arnold family are intimately involved in the land and its operations. Michelle works side-by-side with her parents, Steve (vineyard manager) and Debbie Arnold, her brother, Joey Arnold (the winemaker) and his wife Jessica (graphic designer) and Michelle’s husband, Ryan Pascoe (rancher), plus four little girls (Pascoe and Arnold families) who are finding their places helping in all operations.
“All six of us have a say in decisions. We’re in this together as we simply couldn’t do it alone. We enjoy being together and have a family BBQ Friday and Saturday nights at the ranch house,” Michelle admits happily.
Michelle’s husband, Ryan, along with her brother, Joey, and father, Steve, all take part in the working cattle ranch, which was the inspiration for the Vintage Cowboy wine label. “We love our label because it tells people what we do and who we are. The western lifestyle is appealing to people; even city people have embraced it. Our name allows us to focus on a niche market that embraces the western lifestyle. The wine connects our lifestyle to our customers,” Michelle explains.
The Vintage Cowboy Winery
“We are just in the beginning stage,” Michelle expressed. The Vintage Cowboy Winery is only two years old, yet even in that short period of time, they have developed a loyal following. “Our ‘Loop’ wine club members are just great. They want to know what is going on with our family, and we want to know about them too.”
Lately, the Vintage Cowboy Winery has gotten some notable recognition. “Recently our Grenache Blanc wine won a Gold-Best of Class at the Houston International Wine Competition. The award was a belt buckle. Joey now has a wine award belt buckle to go with his numerous team roping belt buckles!” Michelle and Joey laugh a bit about the buckle.
Michelle sums up their winery journey with this realization, “We look back a lot and realize we have come a long way. We share this experience together as a family. When it’s an awesome day for me, it’s an awesome day for them!”
Enjoy a Trail Ride then Walk up to the Tasting Room
Weekend trail riders will be happy to know they can enjoy a trail ride and then walk up to the Vintage Cowboy Winery and come in for a taste. The High Mountain Lookout road access through the
Trail riders can park their rigs across Pozo Road, near the Forest Road 30S05 access entrance, and walk over to the winery for a pre or post ride wine tasting. The Pozo saloon is right next door, so all visitors can enjoy both venues during one visit. Pozo is about 16 miles southeast of Santa Margarita, California. The Vintage Cowboy Winery tasting room is open Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 am – 5:00pm.
Fall Winemaker’s Gather
Want to spend some time with an amazing family and share and hear stories while enjoying some amazing wine? Join the Arnold’s annual Fall Winemaker’s Gather. Gourmet food paired with Vintage Cowboy wines will be enjoyed, along with live music and dancing under the stars.
Cover photo, all Arnold Family Photos and the Wine Label: Jessica Arnold
Other Photos: Sharon Jantzen