The essay that Scott Lindstrom-Dake wrote when he applied to attend Dominican still rings true, even though the words are at least 15 years old.
“This is so cheesy, but it’s how I felt,” Lindstrom-Dake says, recalling the essay. “My goal to graduate from college was to take the opportunity and then return it to the community. I didn’t know how I was going to do that or when or where.”
He came to Dominican to make a difference somehow and thought he might someday be a fine arts teacher. Who knew he would graduate in 1996 with a BFA to become an entrepreneur/winemaker?
His wines at Thumbprint Cellars have been donated to numerous charities and local events including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation annual fundraisers, Walkers for Knockers and Lock of Love, to name a few.
Lindstrom-Dake’s stepdad and mother grow grapes in Sonoma County so he convinced them to “give” him a few hundred pounds and began making wine in his carport in Santa Rosa.
His future wife, Erica, encouraged this endeavor, but insisted that this “hobby” better not get too expensive. So, as college students, during the holidays whatever wine was not consumed by the couple was given away as gifts; their first “charitable donations”.
“All of the sudden, gold ink explodes out of this pen! Erica’s getting ready for this party and I’m trying to keep the ink from dripping all over the counters. I had gold ink everywhere, including on my thumb. So I decided to stick it on another bottle. It left a perfect gold thumbprint.”
Instead of labels, Erica instructed her husband to sign the bottles with a gold ink pen she gave him.
“All of the sudden, gold ink explodes out of this pen!” Lindstrom-Dake explains, “Erica’s getting ready for this party and I’m trying to keep the ink from dripping all over the counters. I had gold ink everywhere, including on my thumb. So I decided to stick it on another bottle. It left a perfect gold thumbprint.”
Excited, Lindstrom-Dake yelled out, “THUMBPRINT CELLARS!” referring to the previously unnamed ‘winery’. Erica yelled back from across the house, “Whatever?! Are you ready yet?” and thumbprint cellars was born.
Lindstrom-Dake followed his passion and began working in the wine industry. His second offer was for little compensation but the “employment bonus package” was spectacular.
“They allowed me to make my wine there! You can’t ask for more than that,” he says, “but eventually I was making more of my wine than theirs. So, I figured it was time ramble on.”
In 2004, the couple opened their first tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. It wasn’t long before the word got out and the wines were selling out before new releases were available. After several years of re-financing and selling their homes, cases grew from 200 to 5000; so did demand.
Thumbprint Cellars has made its mark. Business is so good that Lindstrom-Dake can be in a giving mood, furnishing his wine for events such as the Mill Valley Film Festival. That essay he wrote at Dominican turned out to be a prophet.
“There was something about being at Dominican that taught me confidence and just having a creative spirit and to just go for things. (Wine-making) seemed to be a natural fit,” Lindstrom-Dake says. “I really do have a knack for it. It’s just kind of happened because of the passion.
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