The Boys of John Ash & Co: An Interview with Dan Kosta


The Santa Rosa restaurant, John Ash & Co., has played a little known but remarkably important role in the history of Sonoma County wine. John Ash & Co. was known for spawning numerous innovative and progressive wine trends that have since become commonplace in restaurants today. Restaurant wine-by-the-glass service originated in California at John Ash & Co., and organized blind tastings of wines and creatively themed wine dinners emphasizing food and wine pairings were first popularized at the restaurant. John Ash & Co. was among the first restaurants to have a wine bar and an associated retail wine store.

Over the years, numerous ex-employees of the restaurant have went on to become successful winemakers, winegrowers and key employees in various wine related businesses.

Listen to Dan Kosta, a former Wine Director at John Ash & Co. talk about his experiences that led up to him co-founding Kosta Browne with Michael Browne, another former John Ash & Co. employee.

For more info on John Ash & Co:

For more info on the wines of Kosta Browne:

Sponsor- The Office of Champagne USA:

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Show #228
(36:30 min 26MB)

7 Responses to “The Boys of John Ash & Co: An Interview with Dan Kosta”

  1. 1 Joseph Levine Jan 7th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Hi guys,
    I have been waiting to post again until I had listened to all of your shows [I have to admit that I have not yet checked out your videos]. I am posting now, despite not yet having achieved my goal. To start, I haven’t been able to hear/download the last two [Guigal+this one] due to technical difficulties. Only a few seconds worth can be played or recorded. I have been having this problem with many of your shows the last 6 months, but after repeatedly going back to try again it usually works. I also just noted that I have only gone back to 10/05, but you have episodes back through 5/05 which I will now have to review. Anyway, I truly enjoy most of your shows, an I learn an enormous amount. I wanted to let you know in particular, while I have forgotten many of the older shows, I thought your Theise interviews was among the best I have heard. The one comment I had that’s a little contrary to what one of you said related to drinking vs tasting. While I enjoy drinking my wines, I find that I have rarely appreciated any as much while just drinking as I have when I sat down to write a tasting note and really focused on all of the elements. Often wines I didn’t like at all when just drinking them, gave me a whole different impression when I really stopped to focus [and, yes, even “disect” the various aspects. But that’s just me [though I will check the comments on that post]. My one other general comment is that you really seem to be lacking in your coverage of Italian wines, and I would love to hear more about that [especially more general overviews–the country or a region vs one winery, like Gaia, though that was nice]. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Jan 7th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Sorry about the techie issues. I am not a propeller head so i will leave it to them to investigate.

    I was the one who mentioned being a drinker Vs a taster. What I was trying to say was in either case (taster or drinker), I like the idea of seeking pleasure from a wine. Certainly one can find pleasure with rigorous analysis. I am a simple man, so i get my pleasures without the fuss..

    On your point about Italian wines, you are correct. No bias here, just too many wine with so little time. Did you listen to the Vega Sicilia show?

    I am cringing at the thought of our early shows.


  3. 3 Joseph Levine Jan 8th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I did listen to the Vega Sicilia show. If I remember right, however, that was a tease, as I believe they are a Spanish vineyard/winery [despite the Sicilia thing]. That being said, I do like Spanish wines, too, and I am trying to learn more about them, so that was still nice. It would just be interested in some more info on Italy. There’s actually a big Italian wine expo in Bostoon, NY, and [I think] Washington DC later this month. Maybe you could cover that some and speak with a collection of producers there. Thanks again, and please don’t stop with what you’re doing.

  4. 4 GrapeRadio Bunch Jan 9th, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Sorry about that. The biggest 2 complaints we get (in raking order):
    1) Too many stories on Pinot Noir
    2) Not enough on Italian and and /or Spanish wines

    I know you said Italian but I was thinking of Spanish. Brain fart.

    Its really not lack of interest, but lack of good contacts. In addition, the wine industry seems ignore Orange County (where our studio is located). They do events in San Francisco and Los Angeles but not OC.


  5. 5 GrapeRadio Bunch Jan 9th, 2009 at 8:51 am

    As I see it, one of the more difficult things facing us is achieving balance, or equal representation, across our shows. As Jay pointed out, it’s not a conscious choice on our part – it’s more the luck of the draw. Sometimes we are able to go out and get the material we want; less often the material comes to us.

    The coverage you are looking for in Italian wines (regional, rather than specific vintners) makes plenty of sense to me. Actually, it makes plenty of sense regarding any/all regions. However, most of our broad-based content comes from wine festivals or events that we attend throughout California. The seminars at these events provide us with plenty of in-depth info, but they are usually varietally focused, and largely concentrate on the domestic scene.

    Lately, our non-domestic regional coverage has blossomed with trips to Champagne, Cognac, and Bordeaux. So, it looks like a trip to Italy is in order. But meanwhile, we do have a couple of nice videos we did recently on a Fontanafredda tasting:

    …and the Vintus portfolio:


  6. 6 Jon Bjork Jan 14th, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Another excellent show!

    I’ve taken the following notes, which I’ll commit to memory:

    “Wine is food.” – John Ash
    “Wine should act as the sauce.” – Dan Kosta

  7. 7 Mattydoolin Jan 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 am

    As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry for nearly 15 years, I loved the interview with Dan Kosta. Like Dan, I came out of the lower ranks of the restaurant pecking order-Dishwasher or DMO as we were referred- to becoming a wine steward and restaurant manager, even owning a small cafe for a while.

    Because of this interview, I’ve become re-invigorated in this industry. I have always thought of making wine, but we’ll see about that. Long story short, I truly appreciate your “Podcasts”. I often share stories and tidbits I learn from you with my restaurant guests and industry collegues. Thank you. Thanks also to Mr Kosta for sharing his experiences with everyone. Cheers!

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