A vineyard site planted 100 years ago, abandoned and replanted by the fifth generation; LOST & FOUND.

 

In the early twentieth century a young Italian imigrant named Domenic Giovanetti came to Sonoma County to work as a quarryman, hops farmer, and wine press operator. He dreamed of establishing a northern Italian-style farm, where his family would be self-sufficient, living off the land and the proceeds from their apples, prunes, and wine grapes. Domenic and his wife, Cate, built their savings and scouted for land. In 1918 they located a magical little valley in the Coast Range west of Forestville. 

The youngest Giovanetti child, Dom, seemed to have farming in his blood. He loves animals, drove tractors and operated machinery from an early age, and delighted in harvesting fruit from trees and vines that he had tended. America entered WWII and Dom was drafted into the army, eventually taking ship for the Phillipines during the bloodiest fighting of the Pacific theatre. Early in 1945 a telegram informed Domenic and Cate that in combat on Luzon their son had thrown himself onto a Japanese hand grenade, sacrificing his life to save several other men.

“The old man lost heart after that,” recalls Domenic’s grandson, Lee Bartolomei, Catherine and Joe’s dad. “The life seemed to fade right out of him.” Dom's brother and sisters, thinking he would take on the family ranch, had all moved away to start their own lives.

In the late 1990s Domenic and Cate’s great-grandchildren, Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, began restoring the old Forestville ranch. Their first project, even before renovating the farmhouse, was to reclaim the old vineyard. But rather than returning to the generic Zinfandel-based field blend that characterized so many Italian-style vineyards of the early 20th century, Catherine and Joe, along with Catherine’s husband, wine writer Rod Smith, decided to plant Pinot Noir.

Meanwhile, Catherine and Joe purchased a historic property near Forestville and founded Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant. As the restaurant earned wide acclaim and a Michelin star, the dream of an estate wine seemed to increasingly dovetail with the Farmhouse vision of local, seasonal cuisine.

It often happens that when an idea is ripe the practical pieces fall into place. Farmhouse Wine Director Geoff Kruth, MS, an internationally prominent Master Sommelier, realized that the Farmhouse staff included a world-class winemaker: Sommelier Megan Glaab. Geoff proposed partnering with Joe, Catherine and Rod to produce a wine from the family vineyard.

The project practically named itself. While researching the family history and discussing the nature of the vineyard, the partners kept returning to one aspect of the property’s character important things eluding the grasp of one generation, only to be redeemed by the next Lost and Found.

The wine is a classically-styled Pinot Noir that expresses the nuances of site and vintage at moderate alcohol—a table wine meant to accompany a great meal.