Brenda and Marin Wolgamott: A Wine-Producing Mother and Daughter Duo

Grape growing and winemaking are the bonds that keep this family succeeding in the ag industry.
Brenda Wolgamott (left) and her daughter, Marin, enjoy time together on their ranch in Lockwood, California.
Brenda Wolgamott (left) and her daughter, Marin, enjoy time together on their ranch in Lockwood, California.
In the rural wine-producing region of Lockwood, California, wine labs can be surprisingly hard to come by. Growers who want to test their grapes for sugar and pH levels often must send their samples three and a half hours away to Napa Valley or out of the state to get the analytics they need.

At age 14, Marin Wolgamott, who grew up on her family’s ranch in Lockwood, saw this as an opportunity to provide these needed services to her neighbors.

“One of our neighbors needed a lab person and taught Marin to do some lab chemistry,” says her mother, Brenda Wolgamott. “Marin always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I had the connections, and she ran her own business.”

Wine by the Numbers

Marin’s interest in wine can be traced back to her mother’s history as a viticulturist. After studying entomology in college and working in agriculture, pest control and crop protection for several years, Brenda and her husband, Duane, decided to enter the wine-growing business in 1999.

They completed their first harvest on their Lockwood ranch in 2001 and created their own label named after their daughter—Marin’s Vineyard—in 2002. In addition to being the vineyard manager for their own label, Brenda is also a general manager for The Wine Group, the world’s second-largest wine producer by volume, growing and providing grapes for the group’s premium wine brands.

"In this business, in agriculture, the thing that counts the most is your reputation. It’s important you do the best job that you can."

Brenda Wolgamott
Marin eventually became the winemaker for her namesake vineyard after earning her undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in wine and viticulture with a concentration in enology. Brenda joked that she tried to convince Marin to “fall a little further from the tree” and asked if she wanted to study something else. However, Marin wanted to learn about the winemaking side of the business.

“When I went to college, I dove into the scientific approach of winemaking, whereas my parents had more practical experiences,” Marin says. “Being on the ranch every day is important, but taking numbers and running analytics are what I’ve brought to our farming.”

Hard Work Is Key

As women, Marin and Brenda often find themselves in the minority in a male-dominated industry. However, they believe there are diverse opportunities available to anyone looking to enter the world of wine.

“There are different avenues to get in—whether you want to do chemistry or you love to get your hands dirty in the cellar,” Marin says. “Everyone’s job in the winery is always appreciated.”

They also both agree that working hard can and will pay off, especially in an industry with such a close-knit group of people.

“In this business, in agriculture, the thing that counts the most is your reputation,” Brenda says. “It’s important you do the best job that you can.”

Hobbies and Heritage

In addition to working for Marin’s Vineyard together, Brenda and Marin share a love of horses and have shown horses together in the past. Brenda, in particular, spends her free time showing cutting horses, a sport that involves being judged on the ability to coach a horse into drawing cattle out of a herd.

Mother and daughter duo finds bond over grape growing and #winemaking. @SyngentaUS #RootedinAg

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“I always grew up with farm animals—pigs, chickens and horses,” Brenda says. “That has pretty much stayed with me, and I think that has crossed over to how Marin has been raised. If you look at our wine label, it has a cutting horse on it.”

Even though Brenda has lived in the Lockwood area since 1978, she admits she and her family don’t always feel like the rest of the locals, whose families have been in the area for three or four generations. Regardless, the Wolgamotts are optimistic about the success of their wine endeavors, and the role Marin has and will continue to play in years to come.

“We don’t have a long line of wine or ranching history, but she wants to continue creating that for the next generation,” Brenda says. “She’s carrying on the torch.”