“As Long as We Make it With Love”

I had the honor and distinct pleasure to interview the brave and dynamic team of Roger and Janice Mattar and Doris and John Severs, winemakers and owners of Big Nose Family Winery who, this month, will be presenting their wines to the OCWS membership via our Virtual Winery Program.

I call them brave, as they took the leap from being OCWS Winemakers’ Group amateur winemakers to commercial winemakers, and I call them dynamic in that their commercial debut entries in 2019 to the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition garnered the highest awards, that of Double Gold, for both wines entered, not a small feat by any standards.

Upon the start of the interview, it was clear to me that the heartfelt emotion emanating from Big Nose’s four principals in tandem and their personal relationships with each other are why they were a major hit right out of the gate. “You should do whatever you’re passionate about and wherever your heart takes you, as long as you do it with love” and “You need good grapes to make good quality wine,” they said. Clearly a winning combination for them and for those who have had the pleasure of tasting their wines.

When asked how they got involved in making wine, they relayed a story about a trip to Napa in 2011, meeting a home winemaker and, as they said “after quite a bit of drinking great wines,” thought, “why not try it?” Roger, Big Nose’s primary winemaker, upon return home to Orange County and some research, discovered the Orange County Wine Society and a passion was born. They had never made wine before joining the OCWS and being mentored by long-time home winemakers.

Now only two years in commercial business, and as with many other winemakers, this quartet is still working paying jobs (often more than one at a time), to sustain Big Nose, with hopes Big Nose will sustain them in the future, while fulfilling their dreams. Sadly, they, like so many others, have been impacted by COVID-19. They said that, with hopes of moving “toward a tasting room and the whole nine yards, COVID-19 back peddled us. We had to stop knocking on doors, doing small events, and gathering our wine club members together for fun times, which we love. We’ve had to adapt and work in the atmosphere and society we’re in right now.”

With a number of wine varietals currently in their repertoire, they are moving forward with love, laughter and the strong conviction to continue making quality wines and the necessity for their wines to be “free from defects, well balanced, and enjoyable to drink and share with others.” 

To learn more about Big Nose Family Winery and their amazing ownership team, check out their video interview with Sara Yeoman, OCWS Vice President, on the OCWS Facebook and Twitter pages. Don’t forget to reserve a space for the OCWS Virtual Winery Program on November 20 featuring Big Nose Family Winery.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer