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Care & Craftsmanship

How it Began

In 2008, a skilled farmer and future winemaker named Giovanni Balistreri embarked on a mission to restore the illustrious past and vast untapped possibilities of a remarkable wine-making property in Sonoma County. Guided by the expertise of acclaimed winemaker Anthony Austin, Giovanni Balistreri sought to revive the legacy of this estate, situated in the heart of the Russian River Valley, which rightfully boasts the prestigious Russian River Valley appellation.

The winemakers recognized the immense potential of this petite estate, but what truly mattered to them was their intimate understanding of the unique locale it occupies. This was not a site suited for constructing a massive, corporate winery focused on churning out wine in large quantities. Instead, it was a cherished spot where an artful and patient approach could yield wine of exceptional caliber. With the passage of ten years, this esteemed estate has successfully reclaimed its former greatness.

A Light Touch

Exceptional wine originates from outstanding grapes. We view it as our responsibility to maintain a delicate approach in our winemaking process and to allow the true essence of the fruit to shine through in the wine. This philosophy stands in direct contrast to a heavy-handed, forced-process approach where chemicals are used to establish a flavor profile based on market preferences.

 

That's the reason why our process is distinguished by producing limited quantities of wines from individual vineyards. This principle entails a highly involved approach from the winemaker and necessitates a strong agricultural background as a prerequisite. It may require extra effort, and it may not be the most streamlined method to produce wine. However, it is our preferred method.

Farmers First

We don't complicate the process of making wine. We prioritize being farmers above all else. Gio, our winemaker, comes from a lineage of farmers spanning four generations, and he wouldn't have it any other way. The key to creating exceptional wine lies in cultivating exceptional fruit. The inherent qualities and flavors of the fruit, when harvested, dictate its potential to develop into a premium wine.

It's important to note that there are no quick or easy solutions. To achieve success, one must be present and involved in every aspect of crop management. As agriculturalists, we take a hands-on approach not only to our own vineyards but also to the farming of all vineyards that contribute to our wine production, regardless of ownership. If we don't actively oversee the cultivation process, we won't produce wine from that particular source.

Our Winemaker

Giovanni “Gio” Balistreri hails from a long line of Sonoma County farmers, spanning four generations. At the tender age of seven, Gio began his labor on the family's dairy farm. Rising with the early morning sun alongside his Grandfather, Les, Gio diligently completed the daily chores, acquiring the essential expertise that sustains his family's way of life.

At the time of Gio's departure for college, he had already acquired a decade of hands-on farming expertise. However, Gio's father, Jack Balistreri, had recognized the opportunity of the family farm for cultivating wine grapes. Consequently, Gio and his father established a four-acre vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes in Freestone, CA. With the impending arrival of his inaugural wine harvest, Gio enrolled at Fresno State University, choosing to pursue a major in Agricultural Business. His concentrations within the field included Winery Management, Wine Marketing, and Wine Sales.

Gio was invited by the famed winemaker Anthony Austin in the year 2008 to be part of a group that purchased Russian River Vineyards. Guided by Anthony, Gio acquired knowledge in the art of winemaking using the delicate touch technique that has now become synonymous with Russian River Vineyards. Subsequently, the wines of Russian River Vineyards have attained over 200 awards, 75 of which are gold medals.