Meet Arizona Agriculture’s Bostock Family

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director: It’s fun to watch this young family make a name for themselves in the wine industry. Their energy, tenacity and commitment to a quality product means Arizona’s future in the wine-making business is bright and promising. And, in the midst of it all they are raising two boys.

If you love wine and you’re are making an effort to know our state’s footprint in this arena, then you’ve heard of Todd and Kelly Bostock. Their latest endeavor is helping start the Arizona Vignerons Alliance (AVA), newly formed organization designed to recognize quality wines being made in Arizona. Farm Bureau members, they know the importance of working together to protect, preserve, advance and build strength in our organizations that support our industries.

And, they’re good at showcasing their wine from southern Arizona with the Dos Cabezas label.

The Bostocks are fully engaged in their wine business. Kelly, seen here, will tell you it's a full-time, family affair.

An ongoing series about Arizona agriculture’s farmers and ranchers.

Interview with Todd and Kelly Bostock of Sonoita, Arizona.

Tell us about your wine operation(s): We own and run Dos Cabezas WineWorks, a vineyard and winery based in Sonoita, Arizona. The entire effort is planted, harvested and fermented in Arizona. 

From our website: “For over 20 years, Dos Cabezas WineWorks has played an integral role in the rapidly growing Arizona wine scene. Originally located in Kansas Settlement, the winery and 80 acres of vineyard were pioneered by the late visionary, Al Buhl. In 2001, Todd Bostock joined the team as winemaker.

“By the end of 2006, the Bostock family took over operations of the winery, and it was moved to Sonoita where it resides today.  The winery is supplied with distinctive, high-quality fruit from its two estate vineyards: Pronghorn Vineyard in Elgin, and Cimarron Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement.”

Any farming practices that highlight water conservation, soil health or and other special practices you instituted to save money, improve the farm and protect the environment? We’re constantly adjusting our farming practices from year to year in order to grow the best grapes with the least amount of interference with the environment where they grow. Water conservation has become increasingly important particularly in the Willcox region where farmers are drilling deeper wells and lowering the water table. Grapevines are a low-water use crop, so to test just how low water use they can be, we started a somewhat unintentional dry farming experiment in Sonoita. With a more well-intentioned plan, we will plant a block of vines to test it out. We have also changed the way we cultivate our soil. We have gone from eradicating all plants & weeds other than grapevines to leaving non-competing ground cover to avoid topsoil erosion. 

What changes have you seen within your operation? Have they been for the better? There is a local support industry growing up around us now. We have access to supplies & equipment that we used to have to purchase from other wine-growing states. From Fertizona to our local feed store, we now have immediate access to specialty items unique to the winemaking/growing industry. 

What is your educational background (i.e. Degree(s), certifications, honors)? Todd: signed up for a variety of majors from a variety of in-state universities which culminated in the perfect set of tools to take on winemaking. Through some extension courses at UC Davis & even more apprenticeship and on the job training, the education was rounded.  Kelly: My degree was in education & I taught for 8 years before transitioning to the wine growing industry where the education is constant & unending.

Will anyone in your family – younger generation – pursue farming, ranching, or agribusiness … in your case the wine business? Hopefully! At this point they pursue it after school or during summer vacation because we “encourage” it. We see more voluntary help from the kids during harvest because they know we don’t get to go home until everything is finished. [The Bostock family has two boys.]

What are your community activities? Kelly: I’m on the school board, we both serve on the horse race committee & organize the Red Beard Rally…a 5k & 10k fun run to honor the late Al Buhl, pioneer of the wine industry & track coach.

Ready for the Red Beard Rally, the Bostock family is fully engaged in their community. 

We’ve also assisted in founding the Arizona Vignerons Alliance (AVA), which is a bit larger than our community, with the goal of elevating and recognizing quality wines being made in Arizona.

What do you love the most about farming, ranching, or the agriculture industry in general? It is an industry that is fairly unpredictable, but tells a story from year to year through its final product. For winegrowers, the growing and harvest seasons happen during the monsoon which is such a special weather time in Arizona, but such a mixed bag. We have friends in the cattle industry & we always joke that we are praying to two different weather gods. 

What do you enjoy doing, and what is one fact/achievement that nobody knows about you? In 2015 the San Francisco Chronicle named us one of the Winemakers to watch out of 10 rising star vintners, which was the first time someone outside of California was selected. 

Why are you a Farm Bureau member? It’s good to have a supportive team behind you in the wider world of agriculture. 

How will the next generation of agriculturalists have to operate? They will likely have to be environmentally conscientious and will need to figure out how to operate with less water.

What is the best business advice that you’ve received and/or have given? To paraphrase: Use caution when hiring people

What business-oriented advice would you give young farmers/beginning farmers? Show up. Say, “Yes.” In the wine industry you get to do it all: grow it, turn it into wine, package it, and sell it. There’s no point in doing the first three things if you don’t put some energy into the 4th. 

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