Catalina Connection

Rusack Vineyards, the only island wine makers in California, may have something to do with Catalina Island’s wine culture

CATALINA ISLAND—Over the years, Catalina Island has become associated with great wine. There are several wine-related events taking place on the island each year: How did Catalina’s reputation become associated with fine wines? Rusack Vineyards, Catalina’s first and only wine vineyards, may be responsible for catapulting Catalina into a major wine destination.

Over the years, many news sources have told the unique story of how husband and wife team Geoff Rusack and his wife Alison Wrigley Rusack used her family’s land to create a dreamy winery 22 miles off the coast of Southern California in 1995. Not only is the winery unique in being California’s only island winery, but the challenges of growing grape there – including the salty soil and costly expense of transporting the grapes – makes Rusack Vineyards special. Catalina Island’s greatness has been in part to the Wrigley’s purchase of the island and the land where the winery now stands was once an Arabian horse ranch belonging to the chewing gum magnate.

According to an article by the New York Times, Santa Cruz Island once had vineyards. However, during prohibition, the winery founded by San Francisco business man Justinian Caire, was done. The Rusacks, later on, revived one of the remaining wild vines on Catalina Island, contributing to the historic legacy of California’s burgeoning wine country.

Rusack Vineyards makes a chardonnay, pinot noir and zinfandel. Patrons can purchase the wine through the Isla Wine Circle at Depending on the modest supply, the overhead cost can be pricey, but for those who can afford it, this is a taste of Catalina.

Be sure to keep the following wine festivals at Catalina Island in your sights when you visit.

  • The Original Catalina Wine Mixer: Sept. 6-7
  • Catalina Island Women’s Forum Wine Festival: Sept. 21
  • 2020 Summer Wine Festival in Two Harbors: TBD

For more information about Rusack Vineyards, visit the website at

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