Mario Bazán said that showing his clients results is what he enjoys best about owning his own business.

Bazán is founder and owner of Bazán Vineyard Management and Mario Bazán Cellars.

“When they hire me, they put trust in me,” he said of his clients. “And I treat their business like my own.”

1. How did you get into this business?

I have been working in the wine industry since I came to Napa in 1973. I worked for Vyborny Vineyard Management for five years. Then, I went to work for Robert Mondavi from 1979 to 1995; at the end of my time there I was the supervisor of To Kalon and Opus One vineyards. While I was in Mondavi, I started thinking (about starting) my own vineyard management business. (In) 1998, after three years working for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Bazán Vineyard Management came to life. In 2005, my wife, Gloria, and I founded Mario Bazán Cellars. We started making only 250 cases of Mario Bazán Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, and we (have) grown to 900 cases that includes a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, and a sister label: RAMA.

2. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?

To learn to manage my own business, I knew how to do the job, but not how to be a businessman. I went to Napa Adult School for three years at night. Then I started going to Napa Valley College.

3. What’s on your to-do list?

Look for ways to expand our brand representation to other states in the USA.

4. Who do you most admire in the business world?

Mr. Robert Mondavi.

5. What’s your advice to someone who wants to get into your industry?

First, you need to do research. It is a competitive world. You have to work very hard. Be honest with your clients. Don’t try to cut corners.

6. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I was a barefoot boy from a little town in Oaxaca, Mexico, who only went to sixth grade.

7. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Community leader.

Not try: Politician.

8. What was your first job?

I worked at a wholesale grocery store in Mexico City from 1968 to 1973.

9. What was your childhood ambition?

I wanted to be a mariachi, which was my dream because somebody left a guitar behind at home.

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

I’m very happy here. I don’t think I want to be anywhere else.

Bonus questions for the Web:

Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?

— With my grandfather, Fidel Martinez.

— With my wife, Gloria Bazan.

— With my friend, Dave Gaw.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?

I wish we were better informed about all the small winery challenges before (we) jumped into that side of the industry, (and) had made … better decisions at the beginning.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

Go to college to be a better communicator.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

I haven’t had a bad job, or a job that I have not enjoyed.

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For more from Bazán visit napavalleyregister.com/business. Reach him at 255-0718 or MarioBazanCellars.com.


Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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