Brothers Steve and Bruce Cousins, owners of Armida Winery, have been working together for more than 20 years. Upon winning the award for Best Tasting Room, they knew the award wasn’t just for them. “Many of our employees, customers and friends have been with us for many years,” says Steve Cousins. “We have a clear idea of what we want to accomplish. That includes treating our visitors and customers like family—this is a family owned and operated winery, after all—and making some of the best wine in California.”
“We also had tenacity through a couple of recessions,” says Bruce. “We both have very different skill sets and working closely together through thick and thin has helped us personify the description of synergy. With us, the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.”
The brothers believe that their location is one of the factors that make them stand out in Wine Country. They both love the ambiance of the winery grounds, their small-lot single-vineyard wines, and the expertise of their winemaker, Brandon Lapides. They also recognize the work of their hospitality team as well as their own hands-on involvement in all aspects of the business, as important factors in their success.
“My brother, Steve, got the whole thing started in the early ‘90s,” says Bruce. “He asked if I wanted to buy a winery and be his partner, two brothers in the wine biz together. I asked him ‘Like the Gallos?’ He laughed and said, ‘Not exactly, but we’ll be successful.’ It took us a while,” Bruce admits, “But we’re still here, having a great time.”
For the past few years the brothers have been working on the Armida brand to respond to a rapidly changing marketplace. Over a year ago, they started working with their long-time friends, Dennis and Jody Thompson, of Thompson Design Group. “Dennis and his team mentored us through a thorough review of our branding and of our design,” says Steve. “The first manifestation of this work is a new label. The first wine with this new label is our 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, which was recently released. There are more changes coming this year, including more new labels, new wines, alterations to hospitality venues at the winery and fun new experiences at Armida.”
The brothers love the process of growing grapes and making wine. For them, the transformation of sun, soil and water into delicious wine is magical and never gets old. They also enjoy sharing the finer points with their customers.
After 22 years, the brothers have many special memories of their work, but one in particular stands out. “A couple of years ago I was married at the winery with all my family and friends there,” says Bruce. “Steve was my best man and my wife Susan’s family was here from England. It was a great day. I put pictures in our newsletter and was touched by how many wine club members came in with heartfelt gifts. That I will never forget.”
Above all, the brothers express their heartfelt thanks for the recognition and invite readers to visit Armida Winery. “Drop by to say hi and check out the new label,” says Steve. “We also have a big thank you hug for you!” adds Bruce.
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