While born into a farming family, Gary fell in love with music at an early age. After earning a degree in business from Cal Poly, SLO, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a musician and songwriter. It was during his stay in LA that the Burk and Espinola families planted the 30-acre Gold Coast Vineyard in Santa Maria. While in LA, Gary’s interest in grape growing and wine took off. Once the vineyard was producing, he sold grapes to local wineries from his LA base. In 1993, Gary was lucky enough to share a dinner with Au Bon Climat winemaker/owner Jim Clendenen and Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtes Lafon. After that, Gary was sure what he wanted to do…funny what a great glass of Meursault will do! In 1994 Gary worked harvest at the Au Bon Climat/Qupé facility, was hired full-time in 1995, and worked in production and marketing for ABC/Qupé until August of 2002, when he left to devote all his time to Costa de Oro. He made 1 barrel each of Gold Coast Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 1994 and has increased production of the Costa de Oro label each year to the current level of 7,500 cases annually. Gary also produces private label wines for Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Pinot Noir), The Halekulani Hotel (Lace Chardonnay) and Master Sommelier, Chuck Furuya (CF Pinot Noir).
The transition from music to winemaking was fairly easy. There are a lot of similarities in the two industries; both rely on a blending of technique, artistry, and “feel”. Gary has received critical acclaim as well, receiving “90” point scores or higher from Robert Parker, James Laube/Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits Magazine. He has also had wines named in the Top 100 Wines of the Year by Wines and Spirits Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Wine and Country Living.