Born in Iowa as Susan A. Mahler = SAM, I moved to the Chicago suburbs at age 3. Our family grew up spending summer vacations camping in the northern woodlands of Wisconsin and Minnesota and we as comfortable in a campground as we were dressed up and downtown among the shops of Michigan Avenue and high rises of Lake Shore Drive where our grandparents lived. The desire for adventure led me to the Colorado Rockies after high school where I became a ski junkie and graduated from flight school to become a commercial pilot.
After graduating from flight school, I moved out to Newport Beach, CA, and started to work as a professional pilot. After a few years of flight instructing, towing gliders, flying cargo, and co-piloting on various corporate jets, I wanted to finish up University and transferred to Berkeley to finish a degree in Earth Science. I continued flying as an instructor for the CAL Flight Club at Oakland Airport. After graduation, I took a position at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab doing research in the spatial analysis of energy efficiency. Succumbing to the allure of academia, I entered a graduate program at Berkeley in Remote Sensing, which utilizes satellite and aerial imagery in earth science research. After finishing M.S. in the program, I continued on in the PhD program while simultaneously taking on a role in the Four Vines Winery as a founding partner for the first time, and also continuing to fly corporate jets and for a small airline on the side.
In 2002, it was crunch time for the growing Four Vines Winery and running the company from Berkeley was becoming unfeasible. So, I made the difficult decision to leave the PhD program, and flying and move to Paso Robles to expand Four Vines. Four Vines went from Zero to 160,000 cases/year in less than 10 years; and in 2010 we sold the brand and started Cypher to become a more exclusive, premium quality winery.
After 18 years in the wine business with enormous growth and then downsizing, 2018 brought more big changes after moving out of our tasting room of 13 years out on Highway 46 West and over to the Historic Train Depot in downtown Paso Robles. The tasting lounge at the historic Depot is the evolution I wanted for Cypher, a charming place full of history, architectural details, and warmth with lots of natural light and comfortable seating for people to sink in and really enjoy our Cypher wines and story. It’s also the perfect setting to share my other passions of creating and sharing my EarthFire body products and Crickets & Tumbleweed culinary line.
In 2019, I will be opening my Westside estate “EarthFire” for Enigma wine club members to enjoy for special events. EarthFire is the new home of the Pi at Cypher Pizza Oven, our EarthFire Olive Grove, an extensive garden with a vast variety of flowers, desert plants, fruits, nut trees, vegetables, lavender, culinary and healing herbs. You will be invited to play bocce, enjoy our bonfire pit, and true farm to table culinary experiences.
Summer of 2020 is the expected groundbreaking of a small winery production facility for Cypher at EarthFire, where we will invite you to enjoy the winemaking experience and barrel tastings as well as personalized tasting experiences as an expanded offering in addition to our Depot tasting lounge downtown.
I am grateful to the many friends, employees, customers, members, growers, vendors and the many people it takes to be able to deliver exceptional wine experiences. I welcome you to enjoy and learn about my wines and other products. They are all the culmination of a lifelong love of the Earth and what nature has to offer us.
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