It was my pleasure to spend 1974-84 operating our family ranch in Sonoma County and selling wine grapes to vintners such as Sebastiani, Souvereign, Korbel, and Seghesio. It was while delivering grapes to Simi Winery that Zelma Long, their winemaker at that time, suggested that we make wine from our own grapes. Her suggestion gave birth to the dream.
Well, time went by and a lot of things happened, but dreams die hard. Moving to Lake County in 1991 provided the welcome opportunity to pursue viticulture again, and my constant experiments with home winemaking only strengthened my dream of building a fully licensed winery devoted to quality and tradition.
I am very proud that every member of the family has given of their time to help this dream come true. Everything from planting, pruning, picking, even placing the label, has been a family effort. Our wines are carefully crafted with a grower's eye, allowing the true personality of each varietal in our location to shine through with nature guiding the process. Many people say that this is a lot of work, some think it would be fun. All I can say is: We are very passionate about what we do. -Nick Buttitta
I grew up in the Russian River Valley in Northern California, surrounded by French Colombard grapevines and old prune trees. Can’t stand prunes to this day.
After moving to Portland, Oregon and studying philosophy and history at Portland State University while bike racing for Nike, I followed a long-time dream and began cooking professionally in 2001. While attending Western Culinary Institute in Portland I worked in several of Portland’s best restaurants. After receiving a James Beard Scholarship I went on to cook at Michelin-starred Terra in St. Helena, California to gain an outside perspective before returning to Portland. I’ve held most every position in professional kitchens, from chef de cuisine, banquet chef and sous chef to pastry chef.
While working at Terra I got to see a successful wine-centric restaurant in action that was both efficient and employee driven, and I also spent my bit of spare time working on my father’s vineyard in Kelseyville, and a connection to the vine slowly rekindled. In 2007 I took a break from kitchen life to help with crush, and in 2008 I made the jump back into the wine world full time with only the occasional winter break spent working in Portland kitchens.
Since becoming winemaker at Rosa d’Oro Vineyards in 2009 I have developed a very broad view of the wine world. Work life is equally divided between viticulture in the field and winemaking in the winery with professional tastings on the side, some science, some craft, and a bit of art. Rosa d’Oro’s focus on Italian cultivars has led to a deeper understanding of European Old World wine, and also a global historical perspective that is the key to good winemaking and viticultural knowledge for me. It is not about oaky Chardonnay or consumer trends, it is about unique locations and climates, and what is outside the industry norm that is compelling for me.
Some of the 2009 vintage wines received double gold medals at the California State Fair and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, marking a significant uptick in growth for Rosa d’Oro Vineyards. In 2010 I became a certified sommelier and member of the Court of Master Sommeliers and have led sensory seminars for groups both large and small. I have judged at wine competitions and co-chaired wine competitions with Sonoma State University’s Ray Johnson, gaining an inside perspective to evaluation and judging.
After taking a much needed kitchen break I have wanted to reconnect with food for some time in a more thoughtful, casual, and communal way. In 2012 we started making a little food in the tasting room; 4-course meals paired with our wines were first served to 20 people. Then 30, then 50 meant two night open, then we were doing 80. Quickly it became clear that it was an intimate part of what happens at the winery, in the vineyard, and a core aspect of what our unique operation offers and can do.
And the cool part is that it is all meant to be shared. -Pietro Buttitta