Sofia Fedotova never imagined she’d one day own a winery in California. Growing up in the Ural region of Russia, she worked for a consulting firm specializing in seminars for CPAs. In a happy tale of internet matchmaking gone right, Sofia’s online profile caught the eye of one John Mauro, who promptly flew to Russia, proposed and whisked her off to a new life in California.
Sofia and John started a highly successful electronics business while at the same time raising four children. Their eldest daughter is now in college.
“We’re the typical American dream story,” Fedotova said. “We started our company in our garage and used our bedroom closets as storage.”
They subsequently acquired warehouse space, and it’s in one of them that you’ll find their new tasting room, Lightpost Winery.
How did they end up starting a winery? Says Fedotova, “We traveled around wine country, fell in love with delicious wines from California sun-kissed grapes and decided to make something of our own.”
It was the purchase of a property in Morgan Hill, called Big Oak Ranch, that set them firmly on the wine trajectory. John and Sofia took classes in everything wine-related at UC Davis, then fortuitously met well-known French winemaker Christian Roguenant (Deutz, Laetitia, Niven), who came aboard to help them make the array of wines found in their new tasting room.
Fortunately, their tastes are quite compatible.
“I know what kind of wine Sofia and John like: big, rich and robust,” Roguenant said.
Lightpost’s current lineup includes a 2018 rosé of pinot noir (Spanish Springs), a 2018 albarino (Edna Valley), 2017 chardonnays (Santa Cruz Mountains and Edna Valley), 2017 pinot noir (Santa Cruz Mountains), a 2017 Rhone blend and cab from Paso and 2016 cabernets from the Santa Cruz Mountains, including a 2016 Fellom Ranch Cabernet from Monte Bello Road in Cupertino. Additional pinot noirs and another chardonnay are about to bottled, so much more deliciousness awaits.
Roguenant is excited about all the 2018s and the upcoming 2019s, saying, “I’m making the best wines I’ve ever made in the US.”
The Mauro’s Big Oak estate vineyard was planted in July 2019, so for now, they’ll continue to rely on select coastal fruit sources, through direct grower relationships and through viticulturist Prudy Foxx.
You’ll find two labels on the tasting bar: one elegant and traditional, bearing the Lightpost logo, and the other, fun and fanciful, inspired by Sofia’s mother’s artist sketches.
The Lightpost tasting room is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Selfie fanatics will appreciate the giant wine bottle complete with matching oversize glass in the courtyard. Outdoor seating beckons relaxation with a flight or bottle, and there’s plenty of indoor seating as well, including a wine club-only lounge and a separate family-friendly tasting room, where kids can play while parents taste.
As you enter the welcoming and tranquil courtyard, you’ll notice a tree resembling a miniature weeping willow.
“It’s called a wishing tree,” Fedotova said, “but you can’t speak of your wish until it comes true.”
She smiles as if she’s about to say something, then holds the thought. It might just be premature.