Ah, the Bacigalupi Vineyards… [This image was created by Richard Sheppard, who is The Artist on the Road.]

My first foray into California was coming to live in Russian River Valley. My first winery job was being on a piece of property adjacent to Bacigalupi Vineyards, owned by Helen and Charles  Bacigalupi, located next to 4035 Westside Road (Belvedere Winery).  This family is very near and dear to my heart, because of them being my neighbors for five years, and also since they and their family have been supporting my efforts with Petite Sirah, through PS I Love You, since the beginning. The family is very civic minded.

And now, the family is marking their 50th anniversary… a truly golden moment and opportunity for me to say thank you to all of them. I’m honored to have been invited to a small gathering, and I’m delighted to share their story with you.

Did you know, for instance, that their Chardonnay contributed to what was crafted in the original Judgment of Paris, made by Bo Barrett?

Charles passed away this past November, and it was a sad day for many, many people; of course, most especially for the family. Quoting from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat story:

But Bacigalupi’s talents were felt well beyond the vineyards. As a longtime Healdsburg dentist, a profession he practiced throughout his grape-growing career — except during harvest, of course — Bacigalupi kept a folder full of jokes that he would recite to patients to help them relax in the chair… “He was a wonderful husband, and we were married 62 years,” Helen Bacigalupi said. “He loved to tell jokes, and he was just very outgoing and had so many friends.”

[Image from www.pressdemocrat.com]

From their press release:

Bacigalupi Vineyards

Famed Vineyard Contributed Grapes to

1976 Paris-Tasting-Winning Chardonnay—

Milestone Comes as Three Generations of Bacigalupi Family

Bring New Vigor to Family Label

The year 2014 is a year of celebrating landmarks in the Russian River Valley, at the venerated Bacigalupi Vineyards. Three generations, including a vibrant Helen Bacigalupi, are in concert, bringing more vigor to the new family-label wines.

This year, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first planting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on Charles and Helen Bacigalupi’s vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The fruit of their efforts has gone on to reap some of the most coveted recognition in the wine industry:

  • Their Chardonnay in the 1973 Chateau Montelena wins the Paris Tasting in 1976.
  • The 1982 Belvedere Bacigalupi Grapemaker series Chardonnay wins the 1984 Sweepstakes at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
  • Their 1982 Chardonnay is served at the White House.
  • See the attached timeline for more landmarks.

In 2014, the Bacigalupi label will be revived for the first time since 1987, with estate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Rose of Pinot, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah made by winemaker Ashley Herzberg.

In 2014, three generations gather to celebrate the life of Charles Bacigalupi and the 50th year of planting of Bacigalupi Vineyards. Friends and fans will gather at the Third Annual Bacigalupi Vineyard Designate celebration on June 21.

Remarkably, the legacy of Bacigalupi Vineyards is alive and well, as three generations of the family still manage farming, wine quality, sales and a Russian River Valley tasting room. Both Helen and Charles Bacigalupi, who started their vineyard in the early 1950s, had broad family roots in Sonoma County… Helen and Charles threw themselves into understanding viticulture and learning from the authorities of the day.

After working with his parents for many years, son John Bacigalupi took the viticulture reins with his wife, Pam Heck Bacigalupi, who had grown up in a wine family at Korbel Winery. With backgrounds in science, farming, and vineyard management practices, they use personal judgment, experience and many years of observing the same parcel of land in their farming. John and Pam encouraged their daughters to pursue a deep understanding of the business with practical experience.

Katey Bacigalupi Row, with a degree in agribusiness from Cal Poly, interned in viticulture for Sonoma Cutrer and in Margaret River, Australia, under David Hohnen of McHenry Hohnen. With a degree in business from San Diego State University, Nicole Bacigalupi Derrico spent four years with Silver Oak Winery in sales, distribution and compliance and has completed first-level certified sommelier accreditation. Nicole has served on the Russian River Valley Winegrowers board of directors and currently sits on the association’s marketing committee. The sisters were recently recognized in the list of “40 under 40” Sonoma county entrepreneurs by North Bay Business Journal.

As of the 2011 vintage, Ashley Herzberg is Bacigalupi Vineyards’ winemaker, and her wines are making their debut under the new label. With many ultra-premium wineries buying fruit and designating Bacigalupi Vineyards on their labels, the Bacigalupi name has become an indisputable symbol of excellence

An opportunity to taste the first releases will begin in May at the family’s tasting room at 4353 Westside Road in Healdsburg. Pricing ranges from $30 to $65 per bottle.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., for the Third Annual Bacigalupi Vineyard Designate Tasting in recognition of the 50th anniversary. Taste wine with food affinities from over 10 fine wineries that use grapes from Bacigalupi Vineyards. Live music and a commemorative logo glass will add to the delight of a sunny afternoon with the generations.

Proceeds in part benefit the Guardsmen and their efforts to educate youth about nature and the environment. [See, I told you they were civic minded…]