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B.R. Cohn Winery: A sanctuary to big success

GLEN ELLEN - Some people start a winery as a second-career activity to create a sybaritic lifestyle in which the owner can make a few cases of wine and spend most of the time relaxing in a patio rocker.

The only rocker Bruce Cohn ever knew was himself. And his founding of the winery that bears his name, exactly 25 years ago, was done for all the right lifestyle reasons. He wanted a place to unwind after weeks on the road with the band he manages, the Doobie Brothers.

"I was living off the highway, and I considered this place to be a sanctuary," he said the other day. "I couldn't hear the traffic, and I could shut out the world."

But the desire to get away from the hectic nature of his other career never materialized. The Doobie's success kept him hopping.

And when he started the winery in the mid-1980s, he never wanted to make a lot of wine.

Today, the B.R. Cohn Winery is a lot larger than he ever imagined. Bruce's one-time sanctuary has been through several renovations and is now one of Sonoma Valley's most popular stopping points for wine lovers.

It's a far cry from the 1800s when stagecoaches stopped there to water their horses.

And Cohn is now busier than he has ever been, which is saying a lot for the only manager the Doobies have ever had. Founded in 1970, it is one of rock's most enduring bands.

Not only does Cohn still manage the band, which performs around the world, but he has an abiding interest in vintage automobiles (a number of pristine examples are on view adjacent to the tasting room).

He also makes and sells food products such as various olive oils (including a small amount from his Olive Hill estate) and other olive products.

He also hosts fund-raisers for local and national charities, including concerts, food and wine events, and golf tournaments.

As if that weren't enough, Cohn and wine maker Tom Montgomery now make 90,000 cases of wine that are distributed nationally.

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