Bruce Cohn grew up on his family’s Sonoma County dairy farm. Today he lives on a 90-acre property that’s home to B.R. Cohn Winery and the B.R. Cohn Olive Oil Company.
In a region where owning a winery doesn’t necessarily make you a novelty, his involvement with the music industry is intriguing. Cohn’s been the manager of The Doobie Brothers band since 1970 and has brought in numerous other musical icons to raise money for the community during his annual .
Sonoma Patch: What is your favorite memory of growing up on a dairy farm?
Bruce: Fishing, hunting and hiking, in between milking 115 goats at 4:30am and 4:30pm. Seven days a week.
SP: That's brutal. Do you have livestock now?
Bruce: Just my Labrador Retriever Bruno- no more livestock, thank you!
SP: How did you get into the music business?
Bruce: I met musicians in the mid-60s in San Francisco during the Haight-Ashbury days, and became associated with the Doobie Brothers in 1970.
SP: Are you a musician?
Bruce: My parents and relatives were accomplished musicians- I played different instruments during childhood.
SP: What’s your favorite Doobie Brothers story?
Bruce: There are so many…. But I really love that the band went from trying to make ends meet playing Bay Area clubs for $200 a night in 1970 to selling 10,000 copies of their first album in 1971, and then selling 2.3 million copies of our second album in 1972. What a difference a hit record makes!
SP: How involved with the band are you today?
Bruce: After 42 years, I’m still working daily with them.
SP: It must have been an interesting transition coming back to serene Sonoma after being in the rock n’ roll world.
Bruce: That was the idea- to do the music business from a serene place, in-between long, hard tours.
SP: How did the annual Charity Fall Music Festival come about?
Bruce: A desire to give back to the community.
SP: What have been the biggest challenges with the festival?
Bruce: Getting anywhere from seven to 10 bands to show up on the same weekend!
SP: How do you decide which charities to benefit?
Bruce: My focus is mostly around charities that benefit children’s and veteran’s programs. There are so many worthy causes. We do change them periodically.
SP: What do music and wine have in common?
Bruce: They are both pleasing to different senses and there is nothing better than listening to great songs with your favorite glass of wine.
SP: Tell me about your attraction to producing olive oil.
Bruce: I have eight acres of 140-year-old olive trees on the winery property, hence the name ‘Olive Hill Estate Vineyards’ on the label. It was a natural progression because I love cooking.
SP: How many varietals of olive oil do you make?
Bruce: We have four extra virgin olive oils and produce four citrus oils-- Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Mandarin Orange and Lime. We have one basil-garlic flavored oil and one dipping oil.
SP: And vinegar?
Bruce: We have six California wine vinegars and six Italian balsamics. And we have three olive tapenades, three mustards, three rubs, chocolate, fudge & caramel sauces, and stuffed olives.
SP: Are you a good cook?
Bruce: I like to cook…. how good I am, you’ll have to ask my victims!
SP: What have you not done that’s still on your “bucket list”?
Bruce: You don’t have enough room on this page.