Our Pestoni Family Estate Winery upholds the high standards and practices of our great-great-grandfather’s winemaking tradition without compromise. From growing to harvest, fermentation to bottling, every step in our process is accomplished by hand to achieve the purest expression of place.
For us, winemaking is not a business, it is our heritage. We are honored to produce premium wines that not only express the distinct personalities of each of our estate vineyards, but also preserve something of our family history.
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 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 in order 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 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.
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.
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.