The reality of George Rosenthal’s accomplishments has far surpassed his fantasies. Rosenthal, 84, has come a long way from his first job as a box boy at Vons supermarket. He is the founder and owner of Rosenthal — The Malibu Estate, which produces Rosenthal The Malibu Estate and Surfrider wines. He is chairman of Raleigh Enterprises, under which many companies were founded, including Raleigh Studios, File Keepers, Sunset Marquis, Hollywood Rentals and more.
In 1982, Raleigh started Raleigh Jet Enterprises, a Part 135 charter company in Van Nuys airport. In 2007, it completed construction of one-of-a-kind 15,000-foot luxury estate set on 40 acres in Aspen, Colo.
The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the man who compares life to a jigsaw puzzle.
How did you know that Malibu was a good place to invest your grape vineyards business? What’s the difference between Surfrider and Malibu Estate Wines?
It was not a pre-chance discovery. We did a lot of research. I met viticulturist Jim Effird in Napa Valley and described to him what I wanted to do in Malibu. We studied the soils, the climate conditions and the water conditions, and determined what type of grapes would be the most appropriate.
Surfrider is a second label. One of my real loves is the ocean, and I wanted a label that tied to the oceans. The main difference is that the grapes for Surfrider are not 100 percent grown on our property. It’s blended the same, but the source of the fruit is not to the estate.
When you were a young box boy at a local supermarket, if someone were to tell you that one day you will be the proud owner of a very successful vineyard in Malibu, what would you say?
I would say the reality has far exceeded the fantasy. I have been blessed that I have achieved more than I have fantasized.
You have so many great accomplishments and companies with Raleigh Enterprises. What would you say is the key to your success? If you picked one company that was most dear to you, which one would it be and why?
I originally built single-family houses in Orange County and sold to veterans of World War II. The key to success is to always look for opportunities and have the persistence to pursue them. Not all opportunities work out, but you have to try and if it doesn’t work out you can always start again. My life has been all about looking and creating opportunities. I can’t pick just one, all of them have been approached with a passion and are like my children. Could you pick a favorite child?
You are also quite the philanthropist. What are some charities that you support and why?
There are so many good causes and things that need to be addressed. We can’t address them all. But I think it’s very important to address children’s charities. There is nothing worse than a child who’s been robbed of their childhood because of an illness. I also support ocean cleaning.
You have traveled the world. What is your favorite travel destination and why?
There are so many. I traveled to Russia before the Iron Curtain came down. I traveled to China when it was a communist country. My favorite thing is having visited various countries and then to see how they’ve changed in a few years. And I also enjoy seeing the constant. The South of France is always the same. My favorite thing is being embedded in the cultures of the various parts and countries that I’ve traveled to.
How do you find time to balance so much in your life?
I’m not sure that I do keep balance of them all. It comes down to if you’re passionate about what you do, then you don’t look at the time clock each hour and day. You wrap your life around it. I always say life is like a jigsaw puzzle; when you start, you know what the frame is, but as you pick up each piece of life and form it with another piece, it starts to form the picture of the puzzle. And when you put it all together at the end, you hope it makes sense.
What’s an interesting/unique fact about you that people don’t know?
With social media today, I don’t know if anyone has any secrets left.
What is your favorite thing about Malibu? If you could change one thing about Malibu, what would it be and why?
The community, the charm of Malibu, the Malibu way of life — every aspect of it. We are all so blessed to live in Southern California, and Malibu is the unique gem. It has a radiance of its own. I would love there to be more vineyards.
How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?
She’s just wonderful. She is extremely talented. She’s a delightful person to interact with. She’s a great artist.