Paso Winemaker Dies in Off-Road Crash

Services Friday for Jacob Raines, killed while driving in Dubost vineyards

by Jane Firstenfeld
Jacob Raines
Jacob Raines
Paso Robles, Calif. -- Services were scheduled for Friday to commemorate the life of winemaker Jacob Raines, 34, who died in an off-road vehicle accident on his family's Dubost winery property earlier this month. Three passengers sustained mild to moderate injuries in the accident, which occurred around 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20.

Raines was the original winemaker at Dubost, founded by his mother Kate and stepfather Curt on a 320-acre ranch in the Adelaida district where the Dubost family settled more than 90 years ago. The Dubosts had developed a walnut orchard and planted several hundred olive trees to produce oil. Raines began planting winegrapes in 2002, and he made his first wine in 2003 in a sustainable, straw-built winery (current production is 2,500 cases).

Kate Dubost, Raines’ mother and the winery president, told Wines & Vines that earlier Internet reports inaccurately implied that Raines and his passengers were indulging in a wild cruise through the vineyard under a full moon, and that “alcohol was suspected as a factor,” as stated in the official collision report released by the California Highway Patrol.

On the contrary, she said, it was barely dusk, they were on a dirt vineyard road, and Raines and his best friend, Phil Stevens, had spent the day completing a “huge project” at the winery and were treating Raines’ girlfriend, Serena Cyr and her visitor from San Diego, Hilary Lawrence, to a tour. Raines had “overcorrected” the utility-type vehicle when it flipped over.

Raines and Stevens, she commented, “were winemakers. They’d had a glass of wine,” but pointed out that Stevens, 39, is a married man and father, and any implications of romantic moonlit carousing were both wrong and hurtful.

Dubost described her son as a “new-age guy” and an avid surfer. “I never knew anyone who lived more in the moment,” she said. “His was truly a life interrupted.”

She thanked members of the local wine industry, who, as word spread, turned out in force offering help with vineyard and winery duties and the impending crush. “This community has been amazing,” she said.

“We were a three-person operation,” Dubost said, noting that Jacob, who had originally inspired the winery, was both grapegrower and winemaker. “His younger brother, Zachary, said that this was his world, and we lived in it,” she said.

Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Raines was the son of Kate Dubost and Jon Raines.  He attended Cuesta College and Cal Poly before embarking upon his winemaking career. Prior to becoming winemaker and vineyard manager at Dubost, he worked at Wild Horse, Dover Canyon, Starr Ranch and Peachy Canyon wineries.

According to Rob Bryn, public information officer with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department, which is handling coroner’s duties for the case, an autopsy will be completed today. “Toxicology reports are still two or three weeks out.”

William Irons, public information officer at the California Highway Patrol’s Templeton station, explained that the CHP routinely investigates accidents involving off-road vehicles. He said the investigation into this incident is still in the ongoing, preliminary stages.

The Dubost family has scheduled a Catholic funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 27, at St. Rose of Lima Church in Paso Robles. A celebration of Jacob Raines’ life will be held at Dubost Winery, 9988 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles, at 3 p.m. that day.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Surfrider Foundation, “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches.”
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