Pestoni Family Winery of Napa Valley is where the ‘Rutherford Dust’ pours and shimmers like gold; California Gold!

Pestoni Family Winery is located along Highway 29 in Napa Valley. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

For 140 years, the Pestoni Family of the Napa Valley has been stomping grapes into some of the most delicious wine of the wine country region of Northern California. In fact, the name Pestoni in Italian means “to stomp or press.” 

Officially the address of Pestoni is St. Helena. But adjacent towns like Rutherford and Oakville constitute the viticultural area of the upValley corridor in which Pestoni Winery and vineyards operates.

Pestoni Family Winery has a lawn and picnic area ideal for gatherings. Families and pets are welcome. Photo by Jonathan Farrell
As one drives away from the city limits of the municipality of Napa, towards Calistoga, the real ambiance of wine country unfolds.
People familiar to the upValley area will say, “it’s the ‘Rutherford Dust’ that helps make the wine great.”  This is what was told to this reporter when I made my very first tasting visit to Pestoni Family Winery this past Sunday afternoon. 
Nestled along Highway 29, Pestoni Winery is part of an illustrious tradition of winemaking and grape growing that goes back as far as the 1830s.
Long before California became a state, when the area was still part of Mexico,  vineyards flourished here. 
While settlers from just about everywhere came to California, the largest migration of Italian immigrants to California was from the 1850s to the 1900s. 
The Mediterranean-like climate and lush vegetation reminded many immigrants of prized agricultural lands back home, such as Tuscany. The Napa/Sonoma area beckoned as many Italian immigrants left the cities for pastoral settings. 
As soon as gold rush fever began to diminish, many people (not only the Italians) recognized that the true gold of California was in the typography and fertile ground of the land itself. 
Accustomed to arduous labor and working upon the land, many Italian families envisioned an opportunity.  With considerable grit and perseverance they were able to purchase acreage and began tilling the soil. 
Pestoni Family Winery is surrounded by their own vineyards. Photo by Jonathan Farrell
In addition to Pestoni, families such as Mondavi, Martini, Sebasiani, & Salvestrin, have been major contributors to the winemaking industry in the Napa/Somoma area. 
While overall the wine industry has grown considerably since the days of settlers and immigrants, there’s something uniquely original about the family owned winery.
Part of that originality of a family-owned winery is integrity. Family wineries have survived amid very difficult circumstances, especially now as climate change is becoming a serious issue. 
Family wineries like Pestoni do just about everything personally, including the way the wine is made. And yes, that includes “the dust.” Pestoni knows the soil has a very important role in the wine. 
With the “Rutherford Dust” in mind, for the tasting on Sunday, Oct. 16 I went with the Heritage. 
At $50.00 I tasted four of the most delicious wines I have had in a very long time. All four wines were “Rutherford Estate” (which means it’s local). The wines and their flavors to my palate, were robust, yet subtly balanced and distinctive. 
My favorite of the four was the Sangiovese, a red wine known for its earthiness.  In essence it’s “dust.” 
Owner, Andrew Pestoni noted, on the selection I had chosen. “Theses are Italian Varietals and they fit in nicely with so many dishes.” 
Mountain Barbera is one of the distinctive varieties of wines that Pestoni Family Winery makes. Photo by Jonathan Farrell
Certainly Pestoni’s Sangiovese would pair very nicely with a slice of fresh baked pizza or a choice ribeye steak.  
I even had a bit of chocolate with the Sangiovese and it was a good pairing.
And later on, after I came home to a pot roast stew, my choice of the Sangiovese to serve with dinner was a winner with family and guest. I should have bought two bottles instead of one. 
Surrounded by vineyards, the winery grounds at Pestoni has a very spacious picnic area with lawn and tables. It’s an ideal spot for families with kids and pets. Dogs on a leash are welcome.
“We have been coming up to this part of Napa Valley for a while,”  said Carrie & Ben, a couple from San Francisco. “And, we like to stop in at Pestoni. It’s like going to church for us,” said Ben. 
Pestoni Winery offers a wine club membership, which provides a significant savings to regular customers. 
On my next visit to Pestoni, I will purchase a bottle of the ‘Mountain Barbera’ which along with the ‘Petit Syrah’ was mentioned in Wine Enthusiast magazine. 
Fall is one of the best times to visit Wine Country because it is ‘crush season.’ While the weather still has snippets of summer warmth, a trip Upvalley along Highway 29 is ideal. To learn more about Pestoni Family Winery, visit the website.