Catalina Island in a glass
Catalina Island is many things to many people. Home. Favorite memory. Adventure spot. Relaxation place. Ideal getaway. The Island has also been many things to many people in the past. Native Islanders called it home for thousands of years. Smugglers found it the perfect place to stash their goods and avoid import taxes. Ranchers brought cattle and sheep. Naturalists discovered an array of unique animals and plants in need of protection and propagation.
In the last couple of years, Catalina Island has become one more thing to one more group of people. Between El Rancho Escondido and Little Harbor, a winery has taken root and from those few acres of grapes, chardonnay, pinot noir and zinfandel are being created. The dream – and now the reality — of Geoff and Allison Wrigley Rusack – Santa Catalina Island Vineyards is possible both because of the couple’s present, the successful Rusack Vineyards in Santa Barbara County, and their past, Allison’s family’s long-term affiliation with the island.
Less than a dozen acres are in wine grape cultivation on the island, but the Rusacks have high hopes and are planning to transform the old Wrigley Arabian horse ranch operation at El Rancho Escondido into a winery and tasting room. In the meanwhile, you’ll find their Santa Catalina Island Vineyards wine in a few spots in town as well as at their Santa Barbara winery.