The Bink Wines Story

Bink was a little guy, feisty, lithe and strong. BINK WINES is small, too, created and managed by Deb Schatzlein and Cindy Paulson — two women with a passion for hand-crafted, elegant wines. It is the fruition of a decade-long quest to grow and produce small lots of vineyard-designated wines from the hillsides of the Yorkville Highlands in Mendocino County.

Our wines are deep and multi-layered, with a black or burgundy ink quality that is reflected in our name Bink. Yes, Bink— the playful Manx cat with the black licorice coat and beguiling eyes inspires our graceful wines.

Deb Schatzlein, Winemaker. When Deb puts her mind to something, it becomes reality. German and Swedish heritage instilled a stubborn streak that serves Deb well. Deb generally sets her sights, trusts her intuition, and jumps in. Determined and undaunted, she worked her way up from the ground level in the wine business.

When the passion for winemaking grabbed her, Deb bought a book and a kit and started making wine at home. She’s come a long way since then, having taken courses at U.C. Davis and Napa Valley College in winemaking and the wine business. Deb likes to get her hands dirty, learning from life experiences. She ditched her environmental consulting job in the summer of 2001 and got a job at William Hill Winery in Napa. Next, she worked with the winemaking team at Cliff Lede Vineyards in Napa’s Stags Leap District. Now she give her full attention to Bink Wines.

Born in East Haven, Connecticut to hard working, fun-loving parents, Deb’s character is steady, decisive, and confident. She grew up with an extended family that loved to gather and have big parties late into the night. Deb’s grandparents liked to have a good time too, making gin in their bathtub during Prohibition. A university education in biology and chemistry led Deb into a career as a chemical process engineer, first in circuit boards, then in environmental engineering.

Cindy Paulson, Winegrower. Called the Energizer Bunny, or “Taz,” by her friends, Cindy’s boundless energy keeps her outdoors as much as possible. She enjoys learning and trying new stuff, and she makes stuff happen — to perfection. Her dad, a farmer and landscaper, encouraged her passion for growing things. She loves to slip outside at first light to tend her garden — or vineyard.

Cindy is a 4th generation Californian, but grew up on Washington State’s Bainbridge Island. The freedom and wilderness of island life suited her unstoppable character. She initially pursued an activist education aimed at “saving the trees,” but gradually refocused on environmental engineering as a way of improving the world.

Cindy laughs easily and loves being around people. She hooked up with Deb when they worked together in Colorado.

How We Got to BINK: We wanted to create our own business and to live near the California coast. It all started with vacations in California, exploring coastal communities.

A 1994 visit to Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley inspired us both to agree that “this is the place.” We fell in love with the rustic wide-open spaces, the eclectic people, and the sense of community.

Still, it took three years of searching the dusty Mendocino County back roads before we found the right piece of land. When the perfect parcel turned up, we flew out from Colorado with two days notice and bought the dream. Hawks Butte Vineyard started as a raw piece of rocky hillside high above the fog layer, heated by a blazing southern exposure during the day and cooled by coastal breezes at night. We planted our first grapes in 1999, syrah and merlot.

As usual, we threw ourselves into our new project. We relocated to California from Colorado a few years ahead of our “back of the envelope” schedule. We crushed our first grapes in 2002 and founded Bink Wines in 2003, also ahead of schedule. But that’s how it always works for us. We dream, agree upon a goal, make a plan, then act decisively — generally, more quickly than we planned. And, we always seem to have fun while we’re at it.

Dream big, act now, love life. Deb’s decisiveness and Cindy’s energy: We can move mountains together. Or, at least, plant grapes on them.