It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Amista Vineyards co-founder Mike Farrow, who died at the age of 80 in hospice care on December 4, 2023. His wife and Amista co-founder, Vicky shared details of Mike’s health challenges in a blog post in August. Ultimately, he never fully recovered after contracting sepsis from an injury sustained during a fall earlier this year.
Mike’s wife Vicky, Amista’s CEO, will continue to lead the winery and carry on the spirit of Amista with the help of their dedicated team. She invites those who knew Mike to come by the tasting room anytime to raise a glass in his honor.
It was Mike’s inspiration that led to the founding of Amista Vineyards with Vicky in 2004. The journey actually started in 1994 when he decided to plant 150 vines on their property in Saratoga, California, to solve a landscaping problem. Shortly thereafter, he started dabbling in making wine in their garage. Mike immediately fell in love with the alchemy of turning grapes into wine and sharing this love with others, including the many friends along the way who encouraged Mike and Vicky to found Amista. The winery name, as anyone who’s ever been to the tasting room knows, roughly means “making friends” in Spanish.
Mike retired to “Winemaker Emeritus” with the appointment of Ashley Herzberg as winemaker in 2011. Their friendship and collaboration over the years resulted in the expansion of Amista’s wine program, notably the planting of additional Rhône varietals and the creation of Mike’s favorite wine, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, which they named Tres. Ashley and Vicky ultimately persuaded Mike that they should launch what has become a growing portfolio of estate sparkling wines.
Mike was born in 1943 in Boulder, Colorado, as the sixth in a line of eight boys to parents Mason, a chemist and Elizabeth, a teacher. After attending the University of Colorado Boulder and then going on to earn a PhD in chemistry from Oklahoma State University, he performed research and taught at the University of Utah, and then joined IBM as a research chemist. While at IBM he met Vicky, and they were married in Boulder in 1983. Mike is survived by his wife, his brothers Joe, Bob, and Tom, brother-in-law Chuck Goudge and many nieces and nephews, and his faithful shelties Torin and Dylan.
A celebration of Mike’s life is planned for the spring, and his legacy will be honored throughout 2024 as part of our 20th anniversary celebrations. We will share more details early next year, in the meantime, please come by for a special pour of Tres in his honor.
Cheers to you Mike, we tip our hats to you!
Mike and Vicky have been longtime supporters of Sonoma County’s Career Technical Education Foundation. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to support the foundation’s work to provide hands-on, career-connected learning opportunities to local students at https://ctesonomacounty.org/support-us/
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