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These San Diego Doctors Run Thriving Wine and Beer Businesses

Surgeon Ben DuBois and Radiologist Chris Jacobsen serve up passion projects


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Bay City Brewing Co.

Surgeon and Brewery Owner

Ben DuBois

During the course of his nearly 15-year career as an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ben DuBois has performed about 1,000 shoulder replacements and 2,000 arthroscopic shoulder surgeries.

And yet virtually everyone he meets asks him about beer.

DuBois is one of the founders and co-owners of Point Loma’s Bay City Brewing Co., a dream that had been percolating since his residency at University of Washington in 1998.

By 2014, after spending many years building a surgical practice and a family with his gastroenterologist wife, Suja, he decided the time was finally right. With his partner, Greg Anderson, DuBois conceived, designed, and oversaw every aspect of creating his brewery, including hiring staff and helping with logo design. The only part he didn’t have a hand in? The name—he credits Suja for that.

“I’m no silent investor,” DuBois says. “And we didn’t just ‘buy’ a brewery, as many people think. No one did it for us; we did it ourselves.”

Taking a cue from his day job as a shoulder arthritis specialist, he has volunteered with the Arthritis Foundation for years and has used his brewery connection to support the cause. This year, Bay City Brewing Co. will be an official corporate honoree for the Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run. The event, taking place on Saturday, December 9 in Balboa Park, will bridge the gap between his two worlds. “For me, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

 

Radiologist and Wine Producer

Chris Jacobsen

A doctor, financial adviser, and entrepreneur walked into a bar—well, that’s almost how National City–based Olsen Perri Wines came to be.

When Dr. Chris Jacobsen, a diagnostic radiologist from X-Ray Medical Group and Sharp Grossmont Hospital, moved to San Diego by way of Texas, he wound up living next door to Will Perri, a personal finance adviser. And through Perri, Jacobsen met Mark Olsen, an entrepreneur. The trio quickly bonded over their shared love of reds and whites.

It wasn’t long before they began a serious discussion about partnering up to start a winery. Perri and Olsen began traveling to the Central Coast and worked under the tutelage of well-known wine producer Jeff Fink, of Tantara Winery.

The demands of Jacobsen’s practice and growing family prevented him from traveling often, so his focus shifted to marketing and distribution for the company they would eventually call Olsen Perri Wines.

Medicine and winemaking require long hours, dedication, persistence, and interpersonal skills.

“I love crush, barreling, and especially tasting the different grape clones prior to—and during—the blending process,” Jacobsen says of the winemaking at their South Bay facility.

The premiere vintage released to the public in 2012 with the bottling of their first pinot noir. Today, the winery produces numerous pinots and chardonnays from various Central Coast sources. In 2014, they received a 94-point rating and platinum medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition.

Jacobsen finds similarities in both worlds. Medicine and winemaking require long hours, dedication, persistence, and interpersonal skills. Although he finds his medical practice most rewarding for his ability to make concrete improvements in people’s lives, he does get satisfaction from seeing his wine business gain recognition.

“It’s been exciting to watch Olsen Perri Wines develop from a hatchling—the product of several friends getting together, drinking wine—into a flourishing winery.”

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