Visitors delighted by the Dr. Seuss-style decor, with wine barrels and colorful wooden chairs

Published in the December 25, 2013-January 7, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo  by Marty Cheek Sandy and Tom Moller relax with a glass of wine in their Satori Cellars winery south of Morgan Hill.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Sandy and Tom Moller relax with a glass of wine in their Satori Cellars winery south of Morgan Hill.

The universe must have a quirky sense of humor because it was a clear case of serendipity the way Satori Cellars got its name. Winemaker Tom Moller was deciding what to call his estate winery a few miles south of Morgan Hill and played with the idea of using the first two letters of the first names of his family members: “Sa” for wife Sandy, “To” for himself, and “Ri” for his baby son Riley. When he googled the word “Satori,” he was surprised to discover it’s a Zen Buddhist word that means “a moment or taste of enlightenment.”

Soon after, he couldn’t stop seeing the word “satori” in books and other sources. He quickly figured that the universe must have had intended him to call his business “Satori Cellars.” The playful name fits well with the playful ambiance wine lovers find when they visit the winery, which is open weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

Visitors are delighted by the Dr. Seuss-style decor with wine barrels, wooden Adirondack chairs and picnic tables painted bright pastel colors. Folks from near and far flock to enjoy the festive fun of the sit-down wine-tasting bar, play on the bocce ball court or wander the meditation labyrinth. Dogs and children are free to roam around, creating a family party atmosphere where people become fast friends over a glass of wine, said Sandy Moller.

“Tom and I have this joke that we’re super great at throwing parties, we love to have parties,” she said. “And one day I said, ‘My God, we should figure out how to make this into a business — having parties.’ And with the hobby making of the wine, we just kind of fell into it. It turned out to be the way to have a party on weekends, to grow and potentially sustain ourselves with the land and have a good time at the same time.”

The Mollers planted their first vineyard on about 20 acres of their property in 2000 to meet the Williamson Act requirement of having an agricultural enterprise on their land for a lower tax rate. An electrical engineer by trade, Tom started making wine as a hobby but enjoyed it so much that he decided to quit his job and switch his career over to making vino full time.

“When I first presented this notion of even starting a winery, Sandy was shocked,” Tom said. “I had a great job, it wasn’t like a mid-life crisis. But again, everything was pointing us to this. I was getting to the point that if not now, when? I threw the idea out to her and her response was, ‘OK, under one condition. That it’s fun.’”

The couple have had fun creating exceptional award-winning wines with playful names: Ta-Da Syrah, Petite Sirah Ha-Ha, Harmonic Convergence Estate Reserve, JoyoUS Estate Reserve, Merlot of the Violet Flame, and Estate Zen-Zin add a touch of whimsy to the wine-tasting experience. This year, Satori Cellars won nine medals including two double golds at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

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The winery is very popular with Japanese visitors who often travel here because they are attracted to the spiritual name which is common in Asia. Recently, the royal family of Malaysia stopped by for a private wine-tasting session and were delighted by the relaxed ambiance of the winery, Sandy said.

“It’s like being on vacation,” she said. “We call our grapes happy, pampered grapes vacationing in the oasis of Gilroy.”

SATORI CELLARS

Location: 2100 Buena Vista Ave., Gilroy
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Contact: (408) 848-5823 or www.satoricellars.com

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Email: marty@morganhilllife.com
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek