Female-owned vineyards are a rare find, and Rachel Martin, Founder and CEO at Oceano Wines + Oceano Zero, is truly exceptional.

Her journey began with her stepfather’s collection of fine wine, which sparked a passion for crafting her own luxury selection. As a teenager, she traveled to Napa and then Bordeaux, France to study the trade before returning and running her family’s vineyard in Virginia. In 2018, Rachel co-founded Oceano, an award-winning brand within the industry. She also recently spearheaded the launch of Oceano Zero, the first-ever luxury non-alcoholic wine. 

In this conversation with Christina, Rachel shares her dedication to pushing boundaries and her desire to be a true innovator. She also reflects on the road that brought her to where she is today.

A Passion Ignited

Did you know that only 10% of wineries are owned by women? And Rachel Martin, Founder and CEO of Oceano Wines + Oceano Zero, stands out as a thought leader and innovator in this industry.

Rachel’s journey is truly remarkable. She developed an early interest in the wine industry as her stepfather, John Cook, was an avid collector himself. Growing up, Rachel had the privilege of enjoying fine Bordeaux wines on special occasions, which ignited a passion within her. When her stepfather pursued his dream of owning a winery after his career with the Washington Redskins, Rachel joined him as the executive vice president. She honed her skills by studying wine in Bordeaux and Napa Valley, preparing herself to build a winery from the ground up.

From humble beginnings to building her own winery, Rachel proves that with passion and dedication, dreams can come true. 

Studying in France

Studying in France would be a dream come true for any wine enthusiast. Although she was excited for the opportunity, Rachel was a bit apprehensive about studying in Bordeaux where the classes were all conducted in French. She had studied French in high school and even had a tutor in Napa, where she initially learned about wine in English before heading to France. However, navigating everyday tasks in a foreign language proved challenging but rewarding.

Despite feeling a bit intimidated, Rachel fully immersed herself in the culture, even though she didn’t know anyone there at first. Connecting with locals enriched Rachel’s experience and helped her navigate life in Bordeaux. 

Rachel studied wine for two years. Her goal was never to become a winemaker but rather to understand the business side and make vineyard decisions. Despite the challenges, Rachel’s determination and passion for wine propelled her forward, making her French wine adventure a memorable and enriching experience.

Middleburg, Virginia: An Important AVA

After finishing her wine studies in Napa and Bordeaux, Rachel returned to Virginia. Transitioning from the wine-rich Bordeaux to the rural town of Middleburg was a culture shock for sure. Despite the initial challenges, Rachel quickly adapted and learned to appreciate the beautiful surroundings and the historical significance of Boxwood Estate Winery, her family’s property.

Passionate about putting Middleburg on the map as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), Rachel was instrumental in building Boxwood Estate Winery from the ground up. From siting the vineyard to navigating social media and interstate shipping, Rachel played a pivotal role in establishing Boxwood as a thriving winery. She tackled various tasks, from sourcing materials for wine production to designing labels and even spearheading efforts to expand distribution internationally.

Rachel’s goal was more than learning about wine—it was also about building a successful brand. She humbly acknowledges the mistakes she made along the way, but points out that each mistake was a valuable learning experience that contributed to her growth and expertise in the industry.

One significant achievement was Rachel’s role in petitioning for Middleburg, Virginia, to be recognized as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). This designation signifies the region’s wine-growing significance. Rachel was the sole author of the petition, and her efforts resulted in the establishment of Middleburg, Virginia, as an AVA in 2012, further solidifying the region’s importance in the wine world.

Rachel’s resilience, innovation, and determination helped to establish Boxwood Estate Winery into a globally recognized brand. It’s a testament to the power of passion and hard work in turning dreams into reality.

From Boxwood to Oceano

Today, Rachel is the proud Founder and CEO of Oceano Wines + Oceano Zero. Her path to Oceano began with a chance meeting with her now-husband, Kurt Deutsch, at the Middleburg Film Festival. Kurt’s family friend, Henry Warshaw, owns a vineyard called Spanish Springs in San Luis Obispo, California. After meeting Henry and visiting his vineyard, Rachel was immediately captivated by its unique terroir—comprising limestone, marine shale, sandstone, and fossilized shells—along with its proximity to the ocean.

Enthralled by the potential of the vineyard, Rachel wasted no time in contracting six tons of Chardonnay grapes. She was inspired to start Oceano Wines, seeing an opportunity to create exceptional wines that reflect the distinct characteristics of Spanish Springs Vineyard. Despite the challenges ahead, Rachel’s adventurous spirit and determination led her to embark on this new chapter in her winemaking journey.

Along the way, serendipitous moments and leaps of faith lead to exciting new ventures. Rachel’s story exemplifies the power of seizing opportunities and following one’s passion, ultimately leading to the creation of something extraordinary—Oceano Wines. 

Commitment to Sustainability

Something that has made Rachel successful is her resilience, drive, and keeping her values in the center of her work. One such value is reflected in Oceano Wines’ commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Rachel highlights the importance of reducing their carbon footprint and implementing sustainable practices. One significant step they’ve taken is using lightweight glass bottles made from up to 75% recycled glass—this reduces the environmental impact of packaging. Additionally, they opt for 100% natural cork closures, which can be repurposed for various items and recycled through programs like those at Whole Foods.

In their new dealcoholized wine, Oceano Zero (more on that later), they use 100% recyclable screw cap closures, making it even easier for consumers to recycle their wine packaging. Moreover, Spanish Springs Vineyard, where Oceano sources their grapes, is SIP certified sustainable, ensuring that they prioritize people, planet, and prosperity in their practices.

From paying fair wages to using organic sprays and managing water sustainably, Oceano Wines is dedicated to minimizing their environmental footprint while producing exceptional wines. Rachel and her team are continually evolving and adopting new sustainable practices to contribute positively to the planet’s well-being.

Oceano Zero: Luxury Wine Without Alcohol

A relatively new passion for Rachel, and one that is on many consumers’ minds, is creating non-alcoholic wines that don’t skimp on quality. Oceano Zero, Rachel’s innovative venture into luxury non-alcoholic wine, is making waves already. Their first vintage—a 2022 NA Pinot Noir—sold out. Enthusiasts are now excitedly awaiting the release of the 2023 vintage this year which will include additional dealcoholized varieties—Chardonnay and Syrah. 

Rachel emphasizes the importance of inclusivity, noting that not everyone drinks alcohol, and Oceano Zero offers a sophisticated option for everyone to enjoy.

What makes Oceano Zero unique is that they start with their own fine wine, sourced from the esteemed Spanish Springs Vineyard in California. Then, they employ cutting-edge winemaking techniques to remove alcohol without compromising the wine’s quality.

With less than 0.5% alcohol content, Oceano Zero provides a great option for those seeking to reduce alcohol consumption while still enjoying the taste and experience of a high-quality wine. And, at only 5 calories per glass, you get all the enjoyment and health benefits of wine without the side effects of alcohol. 

Currently, Oceano Zero offers Pinot Noir, with Chardonnay and Syrah varieties coming soon. These wines will be available for purchase online through their website and at select stores like boisson.co, specializing in adult non-alcoholic wines, beers, ciders, and spirits.

Oceano Zero represents a significant step forward in the wine industry, offering a delightful and inclusive option for all wine enthusiasts to savor without the alcohol content. 

Becoming a Global Brand

Rachel’s journey has been inspiring and full of passion and innovation. Her future plans for Oceano Wines + Oceano Zero include expanding distribution to Greece and Canada for Oceano Zero, with the goal of one day becoming a global brand. 

As she reflects on her greatest accomplishment since turning 50, Rachel enthusiastically shares that Oceano Zero takes the top spot. Looking ahead, Rachel envisions herself traveling the world in 10 years, representing Oceano Zero alongside her husband, Kurt.

Oceano Wines + Oceano Zero is a game-changer in the wine industry. For more information about their groundbreaking brand, as well as support for anyone interested in mindful drinking practices, check out oceanowines.com for more information. 

See Rachel’s Full Episode HERE:

Join our community at www.LivingAgelessandBold.com

See all of our podcasts at https://christinadaves.com/living-ageless-podcast/

Listen on your favorite platform and make sure to subscribe.



Watch and subscribe on YouTube

And if you love it, please leave a review!