When women were rarely decision makers in business or agriculture, Susan Sokol Blosser, a pioneer in the Oregon wine industry, distinguished herself in both. For over three decades, Susan managed every aspect of the Sokol Blosser Winery operation. As vineyard manager from 1980-1990, she drove the tractor, did hand work (pruning, suckering, pulling leaves, and thinning the crop), and used a forklift to load grapes onto flatbed trucks. As president from 1991-2007, she saw Sokol Blosser grow to become one of the largest and most innovative Oregon wineries, with national and international distribution.
Susan was a forerunner in instituting environmentally friendly business practices at Sokol Blosser and practicing the triple bottom line concept of people, planet, profit. With its certified organic vineyard, the first LEED (US Green Building Council’s certification) certified winery building in the US, and business practices based on the Natural Step model of sustainability, the winery made social responsibility and its environmental ethic priorities, while still pursuing its vision of producing remarkable wines.
Then, at the height of her career, she did something rare in family businesses — she chose to transition control of the winery to her children. Not one to go quietly into retirement, Susan focused her energies on the local community, founding the Yamhill Enrichment Society (YES) in 2011. It was created, says Susan, “to enrich Yamhill County with projects in education and the arts, food and agriculture, history and community. YES strives to find innovation, creativity, collaboration and efficiency in all of its endeavors.” Susan holds a B.A. from Stanford University, a M.A.T. from Reed College, and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Portland, citing her entrepreneurship within the context of environmental and social responsibility. She’s received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Women for WineSense and the Oregon Wine Board and is a Lifetime Trustee of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and Marylhurst University.
She and her husband, Russ Rosner, Sokol Blosser’s Winemaker Emeritus, live in a home at the vineyard with three cats, eight chickens and a Tibetan Terrier.