The Pierini story as I live it and how it has become my inspiration.
In the early 1900s, my grandparents immigrated from Italy to America. Both sides of my family made wine and spent a considerable amount of time in agriculture from olives to grapes. Of course, what immigrant Italian didn’t make their own wine?
As a second generation Italian born in America, I had an amazing opportunity to be brought up in a culturally-rich family filled with excitement and tradition. Growing up, wine was never labeled as a drink or considered an alcoholic beverage; it was simply part of the meal. I started to enjoy the fermented fruit juice around the age of seven and have memories of sitting at my grandfather's kitchen table eating fresh Italian bread, Pecorino Romano cheese, and jug wine made from his own hands. In those days, we didn’t have sophisticated stemware, we just simply drank out of a bucket glass. My grandfather enjoyed filling my mind with stories of the old country and I loved to listen to his broken English with the occasional Italian word injected into the conversation because he had no English translation.
It was many years later that my fondness for wine grew to what I would call the “ultimate consumer.” Certainly, I would have never claimed to be a connoisseur of wine, but I enjoyed the experience and developed a great affection for the process. I soon began to study varietals, vintages, regions, and styles of various producers.
In 1999, I was gifted a wine kit by two great friends. Although it was meant to be a humorous gift, unknowing to them, it triggered an old passion that had gnawed at me for years. Several years prior, I had engaged in a conversation with my uncle to pursue my grandfather’s equipment and start making wine. As time gets away from us quickly, so did the concept. Now with the kit in front of me, I decided to try my hand at wine making. The rest is history in the making…
The first couple of years I made a lot of bad hooch. I tortured everyone around me to the point that they would run the other way if I walked up with a glass of wine. It wasn't long however, that I would possess all of my grandfather's equipment, purchase barrels, stainless steel tanks and various lab essentials. It literally looked like I was making more than wine in the garage.
By 2003, the wines began to be palatable and my raw, traditional style would be rewarded by dual awards at the 2004 Orange County Fair. My 2003 Paso Robles Syrah would win a double gold medal and become one of 14 crowned wines in the 604 wine event. My 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon would win silver and prove to only improve as the years progressed.
In October of 2003, I closed escrow on a 16-acre property in Paso Robles deciding that the viticultural area and current demographics would be practical and complimentary to my personality and style. And I went on to take classes at UC Davis both in Enology and Viticulture, which helped me understand the more technical aspects of the industry.
I soon learned to be a farmer and a winemaker, ultimately creating my own destiny. As a wine maker, I believe in minimal intervention and allowing the vintage to evolve into its own masterpiece. Traveling from vine to bottle is a journey that yields tremendous integrity and I feel overwhelmed in conversation when discussing wine and all the pleasures that it brings. Often asked, “How does this year look for wine?” My automatic response is typically, “It’s a great year!” Honestly, they all are terrific years.
My greatest accomplishment can only be fulfilled when my wines are shared and enjoyed by everyone around me. I close with the salute my grandfather always said when toasting his wine…”Centanni”…100 years of good health!