For five generations, our family has grown and produced single-vineyard, handmade wines made from some of the napa valley’s most celebrated appellations.

Albino Pestoni and wife Maria Madonna with sons Angelo, Henry, Jack and Frank. St. Helena CA, 1898

In 1882, a twenty-four-year-old Albino Pestoni immigrated from the small Swiss village near the Italian border where he grew up to the unknown wilds of Napa Valley, California. He first settled next to some cousins in Bell Canyon, an area at the base of Howell Mountain, then referred to derogatorily as ‘Dago Valley.’ Around this time, wealthier and more distinguished vintners such as Frederick Beringer, the Chaix Brothers and Gustave Niebaum were also moving to Napa with dreams of producing wines in this new, lush, uncharted world. Luckily, Albino was undaunted by his competition.

In 1892, he, his wife Maria Madonna and their four sons planted their first vineyard and built a hand-hewn stone and redwood winery to reproduce the wines of their homeland.

Bonded Winery No 935 - Albino Pestoni using a hydrometer to test alcohol level, Bell Canyon

Bonded Winery 935 became enormously popular – particularly with other Swiss Italians from the area who would make special trips to Albino’s winery from as far as San Francisco to refill their bottles with his fine wines. His were family wines – grown and crafted on the property – and although Albino’s achievements may have gone largely unnoticed at the time, his winery marked the beginning of artisanal winemaking in the Napa Valley.

Albino’s 1892 Stone Marker

Albino’s original property on Crystal Springs Road has since been sold to the city of Saint Helena to provide a reservoir. However, his winery still stands as a monument to this artisan’s spirit.

Manuel Domingos, Lena (Domingos) Pestoni, Henry Pestoni, Mini Domingos, Alec Eymard taking a break. Howell Mountain Napa Valley, circa 1929

Henry Pestoni would follow in his father’s footsteps. He married Lena Domingos, whose family vineyard was on the western slope of Howell Mountain. Joined by her brothers, Henry and Lena would form a vineyard management crew, planting and managing vineyards throughout the upper Napa Valley. This experience taught them how soil, sunlight, rootstock, and varietal selection could affect fruit quality, and as well as one of the most valuable lessons in winemaking: the right grape in the right place. In 1923, Lena and Henry purchased what is known today as the Pestoni Ranch on Whitehall Lane. Here they raised chickens, hogs, dairy cows and continued to farm grapes, make wine, sherry and bootleg brandy. Today, the Pestoni Ranch is home to our Estate Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard.

Ehlers' Estate, owned and run by Fred and Manuel Domingos as Old Bale Mill Winery from 1923-1958

Lena’s brothers, Uncle Fred and Uncle Manual, acquired the Ehlers’ Estate in 1923 where they bootlegged until Prohibition ended. In 1933 they renamed it Old Mill Winery and produced wines until 1958.

Bob Pestoni checking the temperature of the grape compost. National Geographic Magazine, August 1993 Vol 184 No 2

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.

Bob and Sylvia Pestoni

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.

Aaron Pott, Consulting Winemaker

Joining us for the 2024 vintage, Aaron Pott brings more than 30 years of winemaking experience to Pestoni Family Estate Winery. A graduate of UC, Davis Dept of Viticulture and Enology, Pott began his winemaking career at Newton Vineyard in 1990. He moved to France to be the winemaker for Château Troplong-Mondot, and then spent five years as the director at Château La Tour Figeac while earning a degree in Viticulture from the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, France. Upon returning to the U.S., Pott was appointed head winemaker for Beringer Wine Estates’ international brands, followed by a dual role as winemaker/general manager for Quintessa Estate. He was recognized as Food & Wine magazine’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in 2012. Today, Pott consults with a limited number of boutique Napa Valley producers, in addition to making wine for his own label, Pott Wine. 

Jeremiah Moore, Winemaker

Jeremiah Moore is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and began his winemaking career at Sterling Vineyards in 2004. During his thirteen-year tenure with Sterling Vineyards, Moore worked his way up to the position of laboratory manager, supervising the winery’s compliance, Napa Green certification, blending trials, bottling and annual harvest internship program. In 2017, Moore jumped into the cellar as the enologist at Blackbird Vineyards. There, he met and worked alongside Pott, who appointed him the winemaker for Blackbird’s custom crush clients and eventually winemaker of Blackbird Vineyards in 2022., ou