A descendent of two winemaking families whose roots in Napa Valley reach back nearly a century, Bob Pestoni was expected to follow in his parents´ footsteps. Of course he did become a winemaker – but not at first. Instead, he did what any red-blooded boy in the 1950s did: he rebelled.
In 1963, Bob and his brother Marvin created Upper Valley Disposal Service, becoming the refuse hauler for the upper Napa Valley. Coming from a family of farmers who depended on the land for their survival, they understood and practiced the art of sustainable farming: planting the right crops, observing proper rotation and always striving to achieve a balance with the land. It was these same lessons and values that propelled their introduction of an aggressive recycling program long before it was fashionable.
In the late 1970s two problems began to weigh on the local wine industry. The first: what to do with the pomace, the grape skin, pulp, seeds and stems left over after crushing. At the time, local wineries were dumping it back into their vineyards or at their property´s edge where it would seep into groundwater. The second problem was how to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, which were also having negative effects on the Napa Valley. Bob began to experiment with an age-old farming practice that had somehow gone out of style: composting. By the 1980s, Upper Valley Recycling was processing nearly all the discarded grape seeds, skins and stems from the Up Valley wineries into compost – an innovation that landed Bob a centerfold appearance in National Geographic Magazine.
In the mid 1990s, Bob and his wife Sylvia were presented with a rare opportunity. A small winery adjacent to their family´s Rutherford property had become available for purchase. Over the years, Bob and Sylvia had always grown grapes on their land, but they had always sold their fruit to other wine producers. They hadn´t been interested in becoming vintners before, but the acquisition of this new property renewed Bob´s admiration for his family´s business – and for his heritage. In 1994, they opened the doors to Rutherford Grove Winery and resumed making the single vineyard, hand-crafted artisanal wines Bob´s father and grandfather had created there for more than a century before him. In 2017, in celebration of their 125th anniversary of Napa Valley winemaking, the winery was renamed Pestoni Family Estate Winery.
Andy began making wine at Rutherford Grove in 1993, overseeing production of many award-winning wines until he departed to focus on his own label, Jelly Jar, in 2011. In spring of 2017, Andy returned to oversee winemaking at Pestoni Family Estate Winery.
“My family has been farming some of these very same vineyards in Napa Valley for over 100 years. By really understanding the distinct personalities of each of our estate vineyards, you learn how to coax the best fruit the land has to offer. I am excited to return to help preserve our family’s dedication to Napa Valley winemaking by producing premium estate wines as my grandfather and great-grandfather once did. ”