My wine journey begins with my Tuscan roots, from the small town of Orentano, Italy. My grandparents were born and raised there, before they immigrated to California. As a child living in San Francisco with my family, I have great memories of my father and grandfather making wine together. They would order wine grapes and then wait for the truck to arrive with their delivery.
I remember how much I enjoyed helping with the winemaking process, and how my mother and grandmother would always cook a delicious meal for us after working with the grapes. These memories inspired me to create a similar scenario for my own children and grandchildren. I really wanted to be able to leave something of substance to my family; something that would create ties between our family’s roots in Italy and our life together in California.
Since my childhood, I have dreamed of someday growing my own wine grapes. In the year 2000, I acted on intuition. It was the right time, when Melanie and I bought seven acres of rolling hills in Russian River Valley. We named it R. Buoncristiani Vineyard, and spent that first year researching and planning what grape varieties would be best suited to our microclimate. By the following year, we had planted six of our seven acres of Pinot Noir, and today we overlook well-groomed rows of vines with great satisfaction.
In the back of my mind, I always had memories of spending summers in Santa Rosa at my grandparent’s ranch and through that experience of having made wine with my father and grandfather, I decided that besides growing grapes, I also wanted to make wine. This was not as far fetched as it seemed, since I had always made wine on an amateur level since 1980. However, this time iI would be making wine on a professional scale.
The name of our wine Orentano, which is the small province in Tuscany from where my roots originated, was chosen to encompass my Italian heritage and embrace the true beginnings of family. Our Pinot Noir is elegant on the palate, yet still has a rich body and great mouthfeel. It is a very food-friendly, which complements nearly every meal. Orentano’s first vintage was in 2004, the first year I started making wine from R. Buoncristiani Vineyard. Our winemaker, Chris Demetre, was working for the co-op I was involved with; it was a collaborative group of four or five other grape growers. Eventually, I asked Chris if he’d make my wine exclusively, since I greatly respected his skill and ability.
We have always been a close family, but Melanie and I have found that our vineyard and winery have allowed us all to connect on an even deeper level. In fact, my grandchildren love to follow me through the vines when I am working in the vineyard. As they play, I help them learn about the grapes and what the vineyard needs from us. Orentano wine is truly about family: past, present, and future.
Orentano has no available wines.
3356 Woolsey Road, Windsor, CA
Chris Demetre’s family ties in Napa led him to experience wine, and his passion for winemaking grew as he took courses at Napa Valley College and U.C. Davis. Chris received his BA in Geological Sciences from U.C. Santa Barbara and began his career with Chevron, designing and supervising work on oil rigs. During this time he also continued his education and received an MBA from U.C. Irvine before becoming a manufacturing manager for a biotech company. His passion for wine led him to France, where he rode his bicycle the circumference of the country, visiting every major wine region, to learn the styles and flavors to be found there. When he returned to Napa, he began fermenting wines for vineyard owners that wanted wines that showcased their fruit.
Chris began making wine for Orentano Wines in 2007 when Ron was a client of the Napa Sonoma Vineyard Group. They worked together in this manner through the 2009 vintage. In 2010, Chris officially became the Winemaker for Orentano Wines. Chris strongly believes that the quality of the R. Buoncristiani Vineyard, in which Orentano Wines’ grapes are grown, positively influences the wine they produce. In Chris’s opinion, the vineyard was put in properly to begin with, and it is managed very well. He feels that the vineyard is a textbook example of what a vineyard should look like. There are two slopes, to the east and west, from a central point, which provide excellent drainage for the vines. The grapes are never over-cropped. There is good separation between the clusters and there is good ventilation going through the fruit zone. Chris enjoys making wine from this property because it’s farmed so impeccably. He feels that the role of the winemaker is to recognize when the grapes are ready to be picked and then shepherd them through to a final product.
Chris is a proponent of classic-styled Pinot Noir. He believes that the alcohol should be kept under control and the wine should be balanced so that it can be enjoyed with food. He describes a spectrum of wine flavors in Pinot Noir that starts out in the light red fruits of strawberry and cranberry and makes its way to the black fruit of cherry and blackberry. Where the pick time is set will establish the fruit component of the wine. Chris prefers to pick the fruit at night, which he feels is optimal for quality, when it is around 45 degrees, and then cold-soak it for three days. Cold-soaking is an American appendage to the Burgundian techniques he likes to use for Pinot Noir.
The Russian River Valley is an ideal place to make Pinot Noir, according to Chris, because the climate is cold. It is actually very similar to the climate in Burgundy, which is where Pinot Noir was developed to grow. The climate allows growers like Ron to grow fruit that retains its acidity. The result is a Pinot Noir with ripe fruit that can get to the cherry and black fruit phase of the flavor spectrum, while also containing some of the red fruit flavors too. The complexity of Orentano’s Pinot Noir comes largely from the Russian River Valley climate in which it’s grown.
Chris lives in Napa with his wife Nicolette.