Celebrating 35 years of turning water into wine


When Karina Mudd of Woodside took over as CEO of Cinnabar Winery in late 2016, she was no newcomer to the enterprise. In fact, her physical presence at the winery went way back – strange as it may sound, to a time before she was even born.

The winery was established in 1983 by Karina's parents, Tom Mudd and Melissa Frank of Woodside, who together built Cinnabar from the ground up. And in the mid-80s, as Melissa pruned and tended grape vines on the 22-acre property above Saratoga, the couple's soon-to-be first child went along for the ride: Melissa worked the vines while pregnant with Karina, and later, she toiled in the cellar while pregnant with their son Jack.

Much has happened during the time between those early years, when young siblings Karina and Jack found endless opportunities to turn the winery grounds into their own playground, and today – including Tom Mudd's death in 2007 and Karina Mudd's college and career experiences on the East Coast. But she's now back as head of operations as Cinnabar celebrates its 35-year anniversary on Saturday, July 28.

The party will include barrel tasting, music and food, with paella a highlight of the menu. It will give guests an opportunity to meet longtime winemaker George Troquato and cellar master Alejandro Aldama, who was hired by Tom Mudd to work the vineyards when he was only 18.

It was Tom Mudd's fascination with legendary alchemical transformation that inspired the name Cinnabar – a nod to the mineral that alchemists of centuries past believed could help turn base metals into gold and silver. Mudd, who was a scientist and a two-term member of the Woodside Elementary School District board, likened that purported alchemical process, which proved to be a fallacy, to the natural transformation of water, soil and sun into grapes, which then could be turned into wine.

Karina Mudd was 19 when her dad passed away, studying at Connecticut College. After college, she worked in New York as a professional modern dancer, in the restaurant business and with the Council on Foreign Relations, she says in an email. In 2017, she moved back to Woodside to run Cinnabar, though she now lives "a bi-coastal existence between California and New York," she says.

Regarding her role at Cinnabar, she writes: "It has been rewarding to continue my father's legacy and learn the business inside and out. The hope is to continue making great wine for our wine club members and customers to enjoy!"

Her mother, Melissa Frank, brother Jack and stepmother Deborah Stipek Mudd aren't involved in the day-to-day operations of the winery, but they "all provide moral and strategic support," Karina Mudd says.

Cinnabar's wines include a Bordeaux-style red blend called Mercury Rising, and pinot noir, chardonnay, mourvedre, zinfandel, and others. Its 2014 Dry Creek zinfandel was a double gold-medal winner in the San Francisco Chronicle's 2018 wine competition, according to the Cinnabar website.

The July 28 anniversary party is from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets are $85 for the general public and $75 for Alchemist Wine Society members; they may be purchased in advance online at or by calling the winery's tasting room at 408-867-1012. Tickets must be purchased in advance and won't be sold at the door.

Guests can visit the tasting room after the party, and with a ticket stub can receive a 10 percent discount on wines bought that day.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Charlea
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jul 26, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Can I get in free if I promise to buy three bottles?

Like this comment
Posted by Rrilke
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 26, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Tom Mudd was a true renaissance man who appreciated all facets of life and lived his life to the fullest. We took a winemaking class together in 1978, and he pursued his dreams and succeeded in building a fabulous winery. He also introduced us to his love of astronomy - another of his many hobbies. I imagine him beaming as a result of all of the people who have followed his passions and whose lives he has impacted.
Best of fortunes to Karina who is taking over for her father and to Cinnabar. We should all take time to drink a toast to Tom and his family - with Mercury Rising of course!

Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2018 at 2:24 pm

It's actually grapes that are turned into wine, not water. we know where you got the idea for your headline, but it makes zero sense to use in this story except that the subject is a winery

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Squid ink paella & patatas bravas: Barcelona natives bring Spanish tapas to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 3,544 views

Lights Out! Foods to Snuggle With in the Dark
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,970 views

What to do with all those cardboard boxes
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 1,959 views

Premarital and Couples: The "Right" Way to Eat an Artichoke
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,403 views

What did you learn last week?
By Sherry Listgarten | 3 comments | 816 views


Race Results Are In

Thank you for joining us at the 35th annual Moonlight Run & Walk! All proceeds benefit the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday fund, supporting local nonprofits serving children and families.

Click for Race Results